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Autobiography of Andrew Dickson White

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As regards the inside history of the convention, Professor
Jenks of Cornell University, a very thoughtful
student of practical politics, who had gone to Rochester
to see the working of a New York State convention, told
me some time afterward that he had circulated very freely
among the delegates from various rural districts; that they
had no acquaintance with him, and therefore talked freely
in his presence regarding the best policy of the convention.
As a rule, the prevailing feeling among them was
expressed as follows: ``White don't know the boys; he
don't know the men who do the work of the party; he
supports civil-service reform, and that means that after
doing the work of the campaign we shall have no better
chance for the offices than men who have done nothing--in
fact, not so good, perhaps, as those who have opposed
us.'' No doubt this feeling entered into the minds of a
large number of delegates and conduced to the result.

A few weeks afterward Mr. Fassett came to Ithaca. I
had the pleasure of presiding and speaking at the public
meeting which he addressed, and of entertaining him at
my house. He was in every way worthy of the position
to which he had been nominated, but, unfortunately, was
not elected.

Having made one or two speeches in this campaign, I
turned to more congenial work, and in the early spring
of the following year (February 12 to May 16, 1892)
accepted an election as non-resident professor at Stanford
University in California, my duty being to deliver a
course of twenty lectures upon ``The Causes of the French
Revolution.'' Just as I was about to start, Mr. Andrew
Carnegie very kindly invited me to go as his guest in his
own car and with a delightful party. There were eight of
us--four ladies and four gentlemen. We went by way of
Washington, Chattanooga, and New Orleans, stopping at
each place, and meeting many leading men; then to the
city of Mexico, where we were presented to Porfirio Diaz,
the president of that republic, who seemed to be a man of
great shrewdness and strength. I recall here the fact that
the room in which he received us was hung round with
satin coverings, on which, as the only ornament, were the
crown and cipher of Diaz' unfortunate predecessor, the
Emperor Maximilian. Thence we went to California, and
zigzag along the Pacific coast to Tacoma and Seattle;
then through the Rocky Mountains to Salt Lake City
meeting everywhere interesting men and things, until at
Denver I left the party and went back to give my lectures
at Stanford.

Returning to Cornell University in the early summer
I found myself in the midst of my books and happy in
resuming my work. But now, July 21, 1892, came my
nomination by President Harrison to the position of envoy
extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at St.
Petersburg. On thinking the matter over, it seemed to me
that it would be instructive and agreeable to have a second
diplomatic experience in Russia after my absence of
nearly forty years. I therefore accepted, and in the autumn
of 1892 left America for St. Petersburg.

While in Washington to receive my instructions before
leaving, I again met Mr. Harrison, and must say that he
showed a much more kindly and genial side than that
which had formerly been revealed to me, when I had
discussed shortcomings of his administration as regarded
the civil service.

My occupancy of this new position lasted until the
autumn of 1894, and there was one thing in it which I have
always regarded as a great honor. Mr. Harrison had
appointed me at about the close of the third year of his term
of office; I therefore naturally looked forward to a stay of
but one year in Russia, and, when I left America, certainly
desired no more. A little of Russian life goes very far. It is
brilliant and attractive in many ways; but for a man who
feels that he has duties and interests in America it soon
becomes a sort of exile. At the close of Mr. Harrison's
administration, therefore, I tendered my resignation, as is
customary with ministers abroad at such times, so that it
would arrive in Washington on the fourth day of March,
and then come under the hand of the new President, Mr.
Cleveland. I had taken its acceptance as a matter of
course, and had made all my arrangements to leave Russia
on the arrival of my successor. But soon I heard that
President Cleveland preferred that I should remain, and
that so long as I would consent to remain no new appointment
would be made. In view of the fact that I had steadily
voted against him, and that he knew this, I felt his
conduct to be a mark of confidence for which I ought to be
grateful, and the result was that I continued at the post
another year, toward the close of which I wrote a private
letter to him, stating that under no circumstances could I
remain longer than the 1st of October, 1894. The fact was
that the book which I considered the main work of my life
was very nearly finished. I was anxious to have leisure to
give it thorough revision, and this leisure I could not have
in a diplomatic position. Therefore it was that I insisted
on terminating my career at St. Petersburg, and that the
President finally accepted my declination in a letter which
I shall always prize.

During the following winter (1894-1895), at Florence
Sorrento, and Palermo, my time was steadily given to my
historical work; and having returned home and seen it
through the press, I turned to another historical treatise
which had been long deferred, and never did a man more
thoroughly enjoy his leisure. I was at last apparently my
own master, and could work in the midst of my books and
in the library of the university to my heart's content.

But this fair dream was soon brought to naught. In
December, 1895, I was appointed by President Cleveland
a member of the commission to decide upon the boundary
line between the British possessions in South America and
Venezuela. The circumstances of the case, with the manner
in which he tendered me the position, forbade me to
decline it, and I saw no more literary leisure during the
following year.

As the presidential campaign of 1896 approached I had
given up all thoughts of politics, and had again resumed the
historical work to which I proposed to devote, mainly, the
rest of my life--the preparation of a biographical history
of modern Germany, for which I had brought together a
large amount of material and had prepared much manuscript.
I also hoped to live long enough to put into shape
for publication a series of lectures, on which I had
obtained a mass of original material in France, upon ``The
Causes of the French Revolution''; and had the new campaign
been like any of those during the previous twenty
years, it would not have interested me. But suddenly news
came of the nomination by the Democrats of Mr. Bryan.
The circumstances attending this showed clearly that the
coming contest involved, distinctly, the question between
the forces of virtual repudiation, supporting a policy which
meant not merely national disaster but generations of
dishonor on the one side, and, on the other, Mr. McKinley,
supporting a policy of financial honesty. Having then
been called upon to preside over a Republican meeting at
Ithaca, I made a speech which was published and widely
circulated, giving the reasons why all thinking men of both
parties ought to rally in support of the Republican candidate,
and this I followed with an open letter to many leading
Democrats in the State. It was begun as a private
letter to a valued Democratic friend, Mr. Oscar S. Straus,
who has twice proved himself a most useful and patriotic
minister of the United States at Constantinople. But,
as my pen was moving, another Democratic friend came
into my mind, then another, and again another, until
finally my views were given in an open letter to them all;
and this having been submitted to a friend in New York,
with permission to use it as he thought best, he published
it. The result seemed fortunate. It was at once caught
up by the press and republished in all parts of the country.
I cannot claim that the gentlemen to whom I wrote were
influenced by it, but certain it is that in spite of their
earnest differences from President McKinley on very important
questions, their feeling that this campaign involved
issues superior to any of those which had hitherto existed,
led all of them, either directly or indirectly, to
support him.

At the suggestion of various friends, I also republished
in a more extended form my pamphlet on ``Paper Money
Inflation in France: How it Came, What it Brought, and
How it Ended,'' which had first been published at the
suggestion of General Garfield and others, as throwing light
on the results of a debased currency, and it was now widely
circulated in all parts of the country.

Mr. McKinley was elected, and thus, in my judgment,
was averted the greatest peril which our Republic has
encountered since the beginning of the Civil War. Having
now some time for myself, I accepted sundry invitations
to address the students of two of the greater State universities
of the West. It gave me pleasure to visit them, on
many accounts, and above all for the purpose of realizing
the magnificent advance that has been made by them in
becoming universities worthy of our country.

My anticipations were far more than met. My old student
and successor at the University of Michigan as professor
and at Cornell University as president, Dr. Charles
Kendall Adams, welcomed me to the institution over which
he so worthily presided--the State University of Wisconsin;
and having visited it a quarter of a century before,
I was now amazed at its progress. The subject of
my address, in the presence of the whole body of students
was ``Evolution versus Revolution in Politics,'' and never
have I spoken with more faith and hope. Looking into
the faces of that immense assembly of students, in training
for the best work of their time, lifted me above all doubts
as the future of that commonwealth.

From Madison I went to Minneapolis under an invitation
to address the students at the State University of
Minnesota, and again my faith and hope were renewed as
I looked into the faces of those great audiences of young
men and young women. They filled me with confidence
in the future of the country. At Minneapolis I also met
various notable men, among them Archbishop Ireland,
who had interested me much at a former meeting in
Philadelphia. I became sure that whatever ecclesiastics of his
church generally might feel toward the United States, he
was truly patriotic. Alas for both church and state that
such prelates as Gibbons, Ireland, Keane, Spalding, and
the like, should be in a minority!

But my most curious experience was due to another
citizen of Minnesota. Having been taken to the State
House, I was introduced, in the lower branch of the legislature,
to no less a personage than Mr. Ignatius Donnelly, so
widely known by his publications regarding the authorship
of Shakspere's writings; and on my asking him whether
he was now engaged on any literary work, he informed me
that he was about to publish a book which would leave no
particle of doubt, in the mind of any thinking man, that
the writings attributed to Shakspere were really due to
Francis Bacon. During this conversation the house was
droning on in committee of the whole, and the proceedings
fell upon my ear much like the steady rumble of a mill; but
suddenly the mill seemed to stop, my own name was called,
and immediately afterward came the words: ``Mr. ----
of ---- and Mr. ---- of ---- will escort Mr. White to
the chair.'' It was a very sudden awakening from my talk
with Mr. Donnelly on literature, but there was no help for
it. ``Accoutred as I was, I plunged in,'' and, in a long fur-
lined coat much the worse for wear and bespattered with
mud, was conducted to the speaker, who, after formal
greetings, turned me loose on the audience. Naturally my
speech revealed what was uppermost in my mind--wonder
at the progress made by the State, admiration for its
institutions, confidence in its future, pride in its relation to
the Union. At the close of this brief talk a few members
set up a call for Mr. Donnelly to respond, whereupon he
promptly arose, and of all the speeches I have ever heard
his was certainly the most surprising. It had seemed to
me that my own remarks had glorified Minnesota up to the
highest point; but they were tame indeed compared to his.
Having first dosed me with blarney, he proceeded to deluge
the legislature with balderdash. One part of his speech
ran substantially on this wise:

``Mr. Speaker, I ask the gentleman, when he returns to
his home, to tell his fellow-citizens of the East what he has
seen during his visit to this great State; and, sir, we also
wish him to tell them that Minnesota and the great Northwest
will no longer consent to be trodden under the feet
of the East. The strength of the United States and the
future center of American greatness is here in Minnesota.
Mr. Speaker, not far from this place I own a farm.'' (Here
I began to wonder what was coming next.) ``From that
farm, on one side, the waters trickle down until they reach
the rivulets, and then the streams, and finally the great
rivers which empty into Hudson Bay. And from the
other side of that farm, sir, the waters trickle down into
the rivulets, thence pass into the streams, and finally into
the great Father of Waters, until they reach the Gulf of
Mexico. Mr. Speaker, on this plateau are now raised the
great men of the Republic. Formerly Virginia was the
mother of statesmen; that is so no longer. The mother of
statesmen in these days, and of the men who are to control
the destinies of this Republic, is Minnesota.''

Never before had I any conception of the height to which
``tall talk'' might attain. It was the apotheosis of blather;
but as my eye wandered over the assemblage, I noticed
that many faces wore smiles, and it was clear to me that
the members had merely wished to exhibit their most
amusing specimen.

I felt that if they could stand it I could, and so, having
bidden the Speaker and Mr. Donnelly good-bye, passed out
and made the acquaintance of the neighboring city of St.
Paul, which struck me as even more beautiful than Edinburgh
in the views from its principal streets over hills,
valleys, and mountains.

At the University of Michigan, in view of my recent
visit, I did not again stop, but at Harvard and Yale I
addressed the students, and returned home from the excursion
with new faith in the future of the country. James
Bryce is right when he declares that in our universities lie
the best hopes of the United States.

Early in the year following the election I was
appointed by the President ambassador to Germany. I had
not sought the position; indeed, I had distinctly declined
to speak of the matter to any of those who were supposed
to have the management of political affairs in the State.
It came to me, directly and unsought, from President
McKinley; I therefore prized it, and shall ever prize the
remembrance of it.

While it was announced as pending, I was urged by
various friends to speak of the subject to Mr. Platt, who
as the only Republican senator from New York and the
head of the Republican organization, was supposed to
have large rights in the matter. It was hinted to me that
some statement to Mr. Platt on the subject was required
by political etiquette and would smooth the President's
way. My answer was that I felt respect and friendship
for Mr. Platt; that I called at his rooms from time to
time socially, and discussed various public matters with
him; but that I could never make a request to him in the
premises; that I could not put myself in the attitude of a
suppliant, even in the slightest degree, to him or even to
the President.

The result was that the President himself spoke to Mr.
Platt on the subject, and, as I was afterward informed, the
senator replied that he would make no objection, but that
the appointment ought not to be charged against the claims
of the State of New York.

The presidential campaign of 1900, in which Mr. McKinley
was presented for relection, touched me but slightly.
There came various letters urging me to become a candidate
for the Vice-Presidency, and sundry newspapers presented
reasons for my nomination, the main argument
being the same which had been formerly used as regarded
the governorship of New York--that the German-Americans
were estranged from the Republican party by the
high tariff, and that I was the only Republican who could
draw them to the ticket. All this I deprecated, and refused
to take any part in the matter, meantime writing my
nephew, who had become my successor in the State Senate,
my friend Dr. Holls, and others, to urge the, name of
Theodore Roosevelt. I had known him for many years
and greatly admired him. His integrity was proof against
all attack, his courage undoubted, and his vigor amazing.
It was clear that he desired renomination for the place he
already held--the governorship of New York--partly
because he was devoted to certain reforms, which he could
carry out only in that position, and partly because he
preferred activity as governor of a great State to the usually
passive condition of a Vice-President of the United States.
Moreover, he undoubtedly had aspirations to the Presidency.
These were perfectly legitimate, and indeed hon-
orable, in him, as they are in any man who feels that he
has the qualities needed in that high office. He and his
friends clearly felt that the transition from the governorship
of New York to the Presidency four years later would
be more natural than that from the Vice-Presidency; but
in my letters I insisted that his name would greatly
strengthen the national ticket, and that his road to the
Presidency seemed to me more easy from the Vice-Presidency
than from the governorship; that, although during
recent years Vice-Presidents had not been nominated to
the higher office, during former years they had been; and
that I could see no reason why he might not bring about
a return to the earlier custom. As to myself, at my age, I
greatly preferred the duties of ambassador to those of
Vice-President. The Republican party was wise enough
to take this view, and at the National Convention he was
nominated by acclamation.

Early in August, having taken a leave of absence for
sixty days, I arrived in New York, and on landing received
an invitation from Mr. Roosevelt to pass the day with him
at his house in the country. I found him the same earnest,
energetic, straightforward man as of old. Though nominated
to the Vice-Presidency against his will, he had
thrown himself heartily into the campaign; and the discussion
at his house turned mainly on the securing of a proper
candidate for the governorship of the State of New York.
I recommended Charles Andrews, who, although in the
fullest vigor of mind and body, had been retired from the
chief-justiceship of the State on his arrival at the age of
seventy years. This recommendation Mr. Roosevelt received
favorably; but later it was found impossible to
carry it out, the Republican organization in the State
having decided in favor of Mr. Odell.

During my entire stay in the United States I was
constantly occupied with arrears of personal business
which had been too long neglected; but, at the request of
various friends, wrote sundry open letters and articles,
which were widely circulated among German-Americans,
showing the injustice of the charge so constantly made
against President McKinley, of hostility to Germany and
German interests. Nothing could be more absurd than
such an imputation. The very opposite was the case.

I also gave a farewell address to a great assemblage of
students at Cornell University, my topic being ``The True
Conduct of Student Life''; but in the course of my speech,
having alluded to the importance of sobriety of judgment,
I tested by it sundry political contentions which were
strongly made on both sides, alluding especially to Goldwin
Smith's very earnest declaration that one of the
greatest dangers to our nation arises from plutocracy.
I took pains to show that the whole spirit of our laws
is in favor of the rapid dispersion of great properties,
and that, within the remembrance of many present, a
large number of the greatest fortunes in the United States
had been widely dispersed. As to other declarations
regarding dangers arising from the acquisition of foreign
territory and the like, I insisted that all these dangers were
as nothing compared to one of which we were then having
a striking illustration--namely, demagogism; and I urged,
what I have long deeply felt, that the main source of
danger to republican institutions is now, and always has
been, the demagogism which seeks to array labor against
capital, employee against employer, profession against
profession, class against class, section against section. I
mentioned the name of no one; but it must have been clear
to all present how deeply I felt regarding the issues which
each party represented, and especially regarding the resort
to the lowest form of demagogism which Mr. Bryan was then
making, in the desperate attempt to save his falling fortunes.

During this stay in America I made two visits to Washington
to confer with the President and the State Department.
The first of these was during the hottest weather I
have ever known. There were few people at the capital
who could leave it, and at the Arlington Hotel there
were not more than a dozen guests. All were distressed
by the heat. Moreover, there was an amazing complication
of political matters at this time, calculated to prostrate
the Washington officials, even if the heat had not done
so; and, among these, those relating to American control in
the Philippine Islands; the bitter struggle then going on in
China between the representatives of foreign powers,
including our own, and the Chinese insurrectionists; the
difficulties arising out of the successful result of the
Spanish War in Cuba; complications in the new administration
of Porto Rico; and the myriad of questions arising in a
heated political campaign, which was then running fast
and furious.

Arriving at the White House, I passed an hour with the
President, and found him, of all men in Washington, the
only one who seemed not at all troubled by the heat, by
the complications in China, by the difficulties in Cuba and
Porto Rico, or by the rush and whirl of the campaign. He
calmly discussed with me the draft of a political note
which was to be issued next day in answer to the Russian
communications regarding the mode of procedure in
China, which had started some very trying questions; and
then showed me a letter from ex-President Cleveland
declining a position on the International Arbitration
Tribunal at the Hague, and accepted my suggestion not to
consider it a final answer, but to make another effort for
Mr. Cleveland's acceptance. During this first visit of
mine, the Secretary of State and the First Assistant
Secretary were both absent, having been almost prostrated by
the extreme heat. At a second visit in October, I again
saw the President, found him in the same equable frame of
mind, not allowing anything to trouble him, quietly
discharging his duties in the calm faith that all would turn
out well. Dining with Secretary Hay, I mentioned this
equanimity of the President, when he said: ``Yes; it is a
source of perpetual amazement to us all. He allows no
question, no matter how complicated or vexatious, to disturb
him. Some time since, at a meeting of the cabinet,
one of its members burst out into a bitter speech against
some government official who had been guilty of gross
rudeness, and said, `Mr. President, he has insulted you,
and he has insulted me'; thereupon the President said
calmly, `Mr. Secretary, if he has insulted ME, I forgive him;
if he has insulted you, I shall remove him from office.' ''

Newspapers were teeming with misrepresentations of
the President's course, but they failed to ruffle him. On
his asking if I was taking any part in the campaign, I
referred to a speech that I had made on the Fourth of July
in Leipsic, and another to the Cornell University students
just before my departure, with the remark that I felt that
a foreign diplomatic representative coming home and
throwing himself eagerly into the campaign might possibly
do more harm than good. In this remark he acquiesced,
and said: ``I shall not, myself, make any speeches
whatever; nor shall I give any public receptions. My record
is before the American people, and they must pass
judgment upon it. In this respect I shall go back to what
seems to me the better practice of the early Presidents.''
I was struck by the justice of this, and told him so,
although I felt obliged to say that he would be under fearful
temptation to speak before the campaign had gone much
farther. He smiled, but held to his determination, despite
the fact that his opponent invaded all parts of the Union
in an oratorical frenzy, in one case making a speech at
half-past two in the morning to a crowd assembled at a
railway station, and making during one day thirty-one
speeches, teeming with every kind of campaign misrepresentation;
but the President was faithful to his promise,
uttered no word in reply, and was relected.

Not only at home, but abroad, as I can amply testify, the
news of his relection was received with general satisfaction,
and most of all by those who wish well to our country
and cherish hopes that government by the people and for
the people may not be brought to naught by the wild
demagogism which has wrecked all great republics thus

But alas! the triumph was short-lived. One morning
in September, while I was slowly recovering from two of
the greatest bereavements which have ever befallen me,
came the frightful news of his assassination. Shortly
afterward, for family and business reasons, I went for a
few weeks to the United States, and, in the course of my
visit, conferred with the new President three times--first
at the Yale bicentennial celebration, afterward in his
private office, and finally at his table in the White House.
Hard indeed was it for me to realize what had taken place
--that President McKinley, whom I had so recently seen in
his chair at the head of the cabinet table, was gone forever;
that in those rooms, where I had, at four different times,
chatted pleasantly with him, he was never to be seen
more; and that here, in that same seat, was sitting my old
friend and co-laborer. Hard was it to realize that the last
time I had met Mr. Roosevelt in that same room was when
we besought President Harrison to extend the civil service.
Interesting as the new President's conversation was,
there was constantly in my mind, whether in his office or
his parlors or the dining-room at the White House, one
deep undertone. It was like the pedal bass of an organ,
steadily giving the ground tone of a requiem--the vanity
and evanescence of all things earthly. There had I seen,
in the midst of their jubilant supporters, Pierce, Lincoln,
Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Cleveland, Harrison, and, finally,
so short a time before, McKinley. It seemed all a dream.
In his conversations the new President showed the same
qualities that I had before known in him--earnestness,
vigor, integrity, fearlessness, and, at times, a sense of
humor, blending playfully with his greater qualities. The
message he gave me to the Emperor William was characteristic.
I was naturally charged to assure the Emperor of
the President's kind feeling; but to this was added, in a
tone of unmistakable truth: ``Tell him that when I say
this, I mean it. I have been brought up to admire and
respect Germany. My life in that country and my reading
since have steadily increased this respect and admiration.''
I noticed on the table a German book which he had just
been reading, its author being my old friend Professor
Hans Delbrck of the Berlin University. At the close of
the message, which referred to sundry matters of current
business, came a playful postlude. ``Tell his Majesty,''
said the President, ``that I am a hunter and, as such, envy
him one thing especially: he has done what I have never
yet been able to do--he has killed a whale. But say to
him that if he will come to the United States, I will take
him to the Rocky Mountains to hunt the mountain lions,
which is no bad sport,--and that if he kills one, as he
doubtless will, he will be the first monarch who has killed
a lion since Tiglath-Pileser.'' I need hardly add that
when, a few weeks later, I delivered the message to
the Emperor at Potsdam, it pleased him. Many people
on both sides of the Atlantic have noted a similarity in
qualities between these two rulers, and, from close
observation, I must confess that this is better founded than are
most such attributed resemblances. The Emperor has
indeed several accomplishments, more especially in artistic
matters, which, so far as I can learn, the President has
not; but both are ambitious in the noblest sense; both are
young men of deep beliefs and high aims; earnest, vigorous,
straightforward, clear-sighted; good speakers, yet
sturdy workers, and anxious for the prosperity, but above
all things jealous for the honor of the people whose
affairs they are called to administer. The President's
accounts of difficulties in finding men for responsible
positions in various branches of the service, and his clear
statements of the proper line to be observed in political
dealings between the United States and Europe where
South American interests were concerned, showed him to
be a broad-minded statesman. During my stay with him,
we also discussed one or two points in his forthcoming
message to Congress, and in due time it was received at
Berlin, attracting general respect and admiration in Germany,
as throughout Europe generally.





As I looked out upon the world during my childhood,
there loomed up within my little horizon certain
personages as ideals. Foremost of these was the surpliced
clergyman of the parish. So strong was my admiration
for him that my dear mother, during her entire life, never
relinquished the hope, and indeed the expectation, that I
would adopt the clerical profession.

Another object of my admiration--to whose profession
I aspired--was the village carpenter. He ``did things,''
and from that day to this I have most admired the men
who ``do things.''

Yet another of these personages was the principal of
Cortland Academy. As I saw him addressing his students,
or sitting in the midst of them observing with a telescope
the satellites of Jupiter, I was overawed. A sense of my
littleness overcame me, and I hardly dared think of aspiring
to duties so exalted.

But at the age of seven a new ideal appeared. The
family had removed from the little town where I was born
to Syracuse, then a rising village of about five thousand
inhabitants. The railways, east and west, had just been
created,--the beginnings of what is now the New York
Central Railroad,--and every day, so far as possible, I
went down-town ``to see the cars go out.'' During a large
part of the year there was but one passenger-train in each
direction, and this was made up of but three or four small
compartment-cars drawn by a locomotive which would
now be considered ridiculously small, at the rate of twelve
to fifteen miles an hour.

Yet I doubt whether the express trains on the New York
Central, drawn by hundred-ton locomotives at a speed of
sixty miles an hour, produce on the youth of the present
generation anything like the impression made by those
simple beginnings. The new personage who now attracted
my homage was the locomotive-driver. To me his profession
transcended all others. As he mounted the locomotive,
and especially as he pulled the starting-bar, all other
functions seemed insignificant. Every day I contemplated
him; often I dreamed of him; saw him in my mind's
eye dashing through the dark night, through the rain and
hail, through drifting snow, through perils of ``wash-
outs'' and ``snake-heads,'' and no child in the middle ages
ever thought with more awe of a crusading knight leading
his troops to the Holy City than did I think of this hero
standing at his post in all weathers, conducting his train
to its destination beyond the distant hills. It was indeed
the day of small things. The traveler passing from New
York to Buffalo in those days changed from the steamer
at Albany to the train for Schenectady, there changed to
the train for Utica, thence took the train for Syracuse,
there stayed overnight, then took a train for Auburn,
where he found the train for Rochester, and after two more
changes arrived in Buffalo after a journey of two days
and a night, which is now made in from eight to ten hours.

But the locomotive-driver was none the less a personage,
and I must confess that my old feeling of respect for him
clings to me still. To this hour I never see him controlling
his fiery steed without investing him with some of the
attributes which I discerned in him during my childhood.
It is evident to me that the next heroes whom poets will
exploit will be the drivers of our railway trains and the pilots
of our ocean steamers. One poet has, indeed, made a beginning
already,--and this poet the Secretary of State of the
United States under whom I am now serving, the Hon.
John Hay. Still another poet, honored throughout the
world, has also found a hero in the engine-driver, and
Rudyard Kipling will no doubt be followed by others.

But my dream of becoming a locomotive-driver faded,
and while in college I speculated not a little as to what,
after all, should be my profession. The idea of becoming
a clergyman had long since left my mind. The medical
profession had never attracted me. For the legal profession
I sought to prepare myself somewhat, but as I saw it
practised by the vast majority of lawyers, it seemed a
waste of all that was best in human life. Politics were
from an early period repulsive to me, and, after my first
sight of Washington in its shabby, sleazy, dirty, unkempt
condition under the old slave oligarchy, political life
became absolutely repugnant to my tastes and desires. At
times a longing came over me to settle down in the country,
to make an honest living from a farm--a longing
which took its origin in a visit which I had made as a child
to the farm of an uncle who lived upon the shores of
Seneca Lake. He was a man of culture, who, by the aid
of a practical farmer and an income from other sources,
got along very well. His roomy, old-fashioned house, his
pleasant library, his grounds sloping to the lake, his
peach-orchard, which at my visit was filled with delicious
fruit, and the pleasant paths through the neighboring
woods captivated me, and for several years the agricultural
profession lingered in my visions as the most attractive
of all.

As I now look back to my early manhood, it seems that
my natural inclination should have been toward journalism;
but although such a career proves attractive to many
of our best university-bred men now, it was not so then.
In those days men did not prepare for it; they drifted
into it. I do not think that at my graduation there was
one out of the one hundred and eight members of my class
who had the slightest expectation of permanently connecting
himself with a newspaper. This seems all the more
singular since that class has since produced a large
number of prominent journalists, and among these George
Washburne Smalley, the most eminent, by far, among
American newspaper correspondents of our time; Evarts
Greene, a leading editor of Worcester; Delano Goddard,
late editor of the ``Boston Advertiser''; Kinsley Twining,
for a considerable time an editor of the ``Independent'';
Isaac Bromley, who for years delighted the Republican
party with his contributions to the editorial page of the
``Tribune''; Dr. James Morris Whiton, a leading writer
for the ``Outlook''; and others. Yet in those days probably
not one of these ever thought of turning to journalism as
a career. There were indeed at that time eminent editors,
like Weed, Croswell, Greeley, Raymond, and Webb, but
few college-bred men thought of journalism as a profession.
Looking back upon all this, I feel certain that, were
I to begin life again with my present experience, that
would be the career for which I would endeavor to fit
myself. It has in it at present many admirable men, but far
more who are manifestly unfit. Its capacities for good or
evil are enormous, yet the majority of those at present in
it seem to me like savages who have found a watch. I
can think of no profession in which young men properly
fitted--gifted with ideas and inspired by a real wish to do
something for their land and time--can more certainly do
good work and win distinction. To supplant the present
race of journalistic prostitutes, who are making many of
our newspapers as foul in morals, as low in tone, and as
vile in utterance as even the worst of the French press,
might well be the ambition of leading thinkers in any of
our universities. There is nothing so greatly needed in
our country as an uplifting of the daily press, and there
is no work promising better returns.

But during my student life in Paris and Berlin another
vista began to open before me. I had never lost that
respect for the teaching profession which had been aroused
in my childhood by the sight of Principal Woolworth
enthroned among the students of Cortland Academy, and
this early impression was now greatly deepened by my
experience at the Sorbonne, the College of France, and the
University of Berlin. My favorite studies at Yale had
been history and kindred subjects, but these had been
taught mainly from text-books. Lectures were few and
dry. Even those of President Woolsey were not inspiring;
he seemed paralyzed by the system of which he
formed a part. But men like Arnould, St. Marc Girardin,
and Laboulaye in France, and Lepsius, Ritter, von Raumer,
and Curtius in Germany, lecturing to large bodies of
attentive students on the most interesting and instructive
periods of human history, aroused in me a new current of
ideas. Gradually I began to ask myself the question: Why
not help the beginnings of this system in the United States?
I had long felt deeply the shortcomings of our American
universities, and had tried hard to devise something better;
yet my ideas as to what could really be done to improve
them had been crude and vague. But now, in these great
foreign universities, one means of making a reform became
evident, and this was, first of all, the substitution of
lectures for recitations, and the creation of an interest
in history by treating it as a living subject having relations
to present questions. Upon this I reflected much,
and day by day the idea grew upon me. So far as I can
remember, there was not at that time a professor of history
pure and simple in any American university. There
had been courses of historical lectures at a few institutions,
but they were, as a rule, spasmodic and perfunctory. How
history was taught at Yale is shown in another chapter of
these reminiscences. The lectures of President Sparks
had evidently trained up no school of historical professors
at Harvard. There had been a noted professor at William
and Mary College, Virginia,--doubtless, in his time, the
best historical lecturer in the United States,--Dr. William
Dew, the notes of whose lectures, as afterward published,
were admirable; but he had left no successor. Francis
Lieber, at the University of South Carolina, had taught
political philosophy with much depth of thought and
wealth of historical illustration; but neither there nor
elsewhere did there exist anything like systematic courses in
history such as have now been developed in so many of
our universities and colleges.

During my stay as resident graduate at Yale after my
return from Europe in 1856, I often discussed the subject
with my old friend and companion Gilman, now president
of the Carnegie Institution, and with my beloved instructor,
Professor Porter. Both were kind enough to urge me
to remain at New Haven, assuring me that in time a
professorship would be established. To promote this I wrote an
article on ``German Instruction in General History,''
which was well received when published in the ``New
Englander,'' and prepared sundry lectures, which were
received by the university people and by the New York press
more favorably than I now think they deserved. But there
seemed, after all, no chance for a professorship devoted to
this line of study. More and more, too, I felt that even if I
were called to a historical professorship at Yale, the old-
fashioned orthodoxy which then prevailed must fetter me:
I could not utter the shibboleths then demanded, and the
future seemed dark indeed. Yet my belief in the value
of better historical instruction in our universities grew
more and more, and a most happy impulse was now given
to my thinking by a book which I read and reread--
Stanley's ``Life of Arnold.'' It showed me much, but
especially two things: first, how effective history might
be made in bringing young men into fruitful trains of
thought regarding present politics; and, secondly, how
real an influence an earnest teacher might thus exercise
upon his country.

While in this state of mind I met my class assembled at
the Yale commencement of 1856 to take the master's
degree in course, after the manner of those days. This was
the turning-point with me. I had been for some time more
and more uneasy and unhappy because my way did not
seem to clear; but at this commencement of 1856, while
lounging among my classmates in the college yard, I heard
some one say that President Wayland of Brown University
was addressing the graduates in the Hall of the Alumni.
Going to the door, I looked in, and saw at the high table an
old man, strong-featured, heavy-browed, with spectacles
resting on the top of his head, and just at that moment he
spoke very impressively as follows: ``The best field of
work for graduates is now in the WEST; our country is
shortly to arrive at a switching-off place for good or evil;
our Western States are to hold the balance of power in
the Union, and to determine whether the country shall
become a blessing or a curse in human history.''

I had never seen him before; I never saw him afterward.
His speech lasted less than ten minutes, but it settled a
great question for me. I went home and wrote to sundry
friends that I was a candidate for the professorship of
history in any Western college where there was a chance
to get at students, and as a result received two calls--one
to a Southern university, which I could not accept on
account of my anti-slavery opinions; the other to the
University of Michigan, which I accepted. My old college friends
were kind enough to tender me later the professorship in
the new School of Art at Yale, but my belief was firm in
the value of historical studies. The words of Wayland
rang in my ears, and I went gladly into the new field.

On arriving at the University of Michigan in October,
1857, although I had much to do with other students, I took
especial charge of the sophomore class. It included many
young men of ability and force, but had the reputation of
being the most unmanageable body which had been known
there in years. Thus far it had been under the charge of
tutors, and it had made life a burden to them. Its preparation
for the work I sought to do was wretchedly imperfect.
Among my duties was the examination of entrance
classes in modern geography as a preliminary to their
admission to my course in history, and I soon discovered a
serious weakness in the public-school system. In her
preparatory schools the State of Michigan took especial
pride, but certainly at that time they were far below
their reputation. If any subject was supposed to be
thoroughly taught in them it was geography, but I soon
found that in the great majority of my students there was
not a trace of real knowledge of physical geography and
very little of political. With this state of things I at once
grappled, and immediately ``conditioned'' in these studies
about nine tenths of the entering class. At first there were
many protests; but I said to my ingenuous youths that no
pedantic study was needed, that all I required was a preparation
such as would enable any one of them to read intelligently
his morning newspaper, and to this end I advised
each one of them to accept his conditions, to abjure all
learning by rote from text-books, to take up simply any
convenient atlas which came to hand, studying first the
map of our own country, with its main divisions, physical
and political, its water communications, trend of coasts,
spurring of mountains, positions of leading cities, etc., and
then to do the same thing with each of the leading countries
of Europe, and finally with the other main divisions
of the world. To stimulate their interest and show them
what was meant, I gave a short course of lectures on
physical geography, showing some of its more striking
effects on history; then another course on political
geography, with a similar purpose; and finally notified my
young men that they were admitted to my classes in history
only under condition that, six weeks later, they should
pass an examination in geography, full, satisfactory, and
final. The young fellows now took their conditions very
kindly, for they clearly saw the justice of them. One
young man said to me: ``Professor, you are entirely right
in conditioning me, but I was never so surprised in my
life; if there was anything which I supposed I knew well
it was geography; why, I have taught it, and very successfully,
in a large public school.'' On my asking him how he
taught a subject in which he was so deficient, he answered
that he had taught his pupils to ``sing'' it. I replied that if
he would sing the answers to my questions, I would admit
him at once; but this he declined, saying that he much
preferred to accept the conditions. In about six weeks I held
the final examinations, and their success amazed us all.
Not a man failed, and some really distinguished themselves.
They had all gone at the work cordially and heartily,
arranging themselves in squads and clubs for mutual
study and examination on each physical and political map;
and it is certain that by this simple, common-sense method
they learned more in six weeks than they had previously
learned in years of plodding along by rote, day after day
through text-books.

Nor was this mere ``cram.'' Their geographical
knowledge lasted and was increased, as was proved at my
historical examinations afterward.

I soon became intensely interested in my work, and
looked forward to it every day with pleasure. The first
part of it was instruction in modern history as a basis for
my lectures which were to follow, and for this purpose I
used with the sophomores two text-books. The first of
these was Robertson's ``Philosophical View of the Middle
Ages,'' which forms the introduction to his ``Life of
Charles the Fifth.'' Although superseded in many of
its parts by modern investigation, very defective in
several important matters, and in some things--as, for
example, in its appreciation of medieval literature--entirely
mistaken, it was, when written one hundred years ago,
recognized as a classic, and it remains so to this day. It
was a work of genius. Supplemented by elucidations and
extensions, it served an admirable purpose in introducing
my students to the things really worth knowing in modern
history, without confusing them with masses of pedantic

The next text-book which I took up was Dr. John Lord's
``Modern History,'' the same which President Woolsey
had used with my class during its senior year at Yale. It
was imperfect in every respect, with no end of gaps and
errors, but it had one real merit--it interested its readers.
It was, as every such work ought to be, largely biographic.
There was enthusiasm, a sort of ``go,'' in Dr. Lord, and
this quality he had communicated to his book, so that, with
all its faults, it formed the best basis then obtainable for
further instruction. Its omissions and errors I sought to
rectify--as Woolsey, I am sorry to say, had never done to
any extent--by offhand talks and by pointing out supplementary
reading, such as sundry chapters of Gibbon and
Hallam, essays by Macaulay, extracts from Lingard,
Ranke, Prescott, Motley, and others. Once a fortnight
through the winter, the class assembled at my house
socially, ``the more attractive young women of the little city
being invited to meet them; but the social part was always
preceded by an hour and a half's reading of short passages
from eminent historians or travelers, bearing on our classroom
work during the previous fortnight. These passages
were read by students whom I selected for the
purpose, and they proved useful from the historical,
literary, and social point of view.

For the class next above, the juniors, I took for textbook
preparation Guizot's ``History of Civilization in
Europe''--a book tinged with the doctrinairism of its
author, but a work of genius; a GREAT work, stimulating
new trains of thought, and opening new vistas of
knowledge. This, with sundry supplementary talks, and with
short readings from Gibbon, Thierry, Guizot's ``History
of Civilization in France,'' and Sir James Stephen's
``Lectures on French History,'' served an excellent purpose.

Nor was the use of Guizot's book entirely confined to
historical purposes. Calling attention to the Abb
Bautain's little book on extemporaneous speaking, as the best
treatise on the subject I had ever seen, I reminded my
students that these famous lectures of Guizot, which had
opened a new epoch in modern historical investigation and
instruction, were given, as regards phrasing, extemporaneously,
but that, as regards matter, they were carefully
prepared beforehand, having what Bautain calls a ``self-
developing order''; and I stated that I would allow any
member of my class who might volunteer for the purpose
to give, in his own phrasing, the substance of an entire
lecture. For a young man thus to stand up and virtually
deliver one of Guizot's lectures required great concentration
of thought and considerable facility in expression, but
several students availed themselves of the permission, and
acquitted themselves admirably. This seemed to me an
excellent training for effective public speaking, and
several of my old students, who have since distinguished
themselves in public life, have confessed to me that they
found it so.

My next and highest duty was giving lectures to the
senior class and students from the law school. Into this
I threw myself heartily, and soon had the satisfaction of
seeing my large lecture-room constantly full. The first
of these courses was on the ``Development of Civilization
during the Middle Ages''; and, as I followed the logical
rather than the chronological order,--taking up the subject,
not by a recital of events, but by a discussion of
epochs and subjects,--I thought it best to lecture without
manuscript or even notes. This was, for me, a bold
venture. I had never before attempted anything in the way
of extended extemporaneous speaking; and, as I entered
the old chapel of the university for my first lecture, and
saw it full of students of all classes, I avowed my trepidation
to President Tappan, who, having come to introduce
me, was seated by my side. He was an admirable
extemporaneous speaker in the best sense, and he then and there
gave me a bit of advice which proved of real value. He
said: ``Let me, as an old hand, tell you one thing: never
stop dead; keep saying something.'' This course of lectures
was followed by others on modern history, one of
these being on ``German History from the Revival of
Learning and the Reformation to Modern Times,''
another on ``French History from the Consolidation of the
Monarchy to the French Revolution,'' and still another on
the ``French Revolution.'' To this latter course I gave
special attention, the foundation having been laid for it
in France, where I had visited various interesting places
and talked with interesting men who recalled events and
people of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic periods. For
a text-book foundation I read with my lower classes
Mignet's ``History of the Revolution,'' which still
remained what Carlyle pronounced it--the best short summary
of that great period.

To further the work of my students in the lecture-room,
I published an interleaved syllabus of each course, and
was, I think, the first person in our country who ever did
this in connection with historical lectures. It is a matter
of wonder to me that so few professors in these days resort
to this simple means of strengthening their instruction.
It ought to be required by university statutes. It seems
to me indispensable to anything like thorough work. A
syllabus, properly interleaved, furnishes to a student by
far the best means of taking notes on each lecture, as well
as of reviewing the whole course afterward, and to a professor
the best means of testing the faithfulness of his
students. As regards myself personally, there came to
me from my syllabus an especial advantage; for, as I have
shown in my political experiences, it gained for me the
friendship of Charles Sumner.

I have stated elsewhere that my zeal in teaching history
was by no means the result of a mere liking for that field
of thought. Great as was my love for historical studies,
there was something I prized far more--and that was the
opportunity to promote a better training in thought
regarding our great national problems then rapidly
approaching solution, the greatest of all being the question
between the supporters and opponents of slavery.

In order that my work might be fairly well based, I had,
during my college days and my first stay abroad, begun
collecting the private library which has added certainly
to the pleasures, and probably to the usefulness, of my
life. Books which are now costly rarities could then be
bought in the European capitals for petty sums. There
is hardly any old European city which has not been, at
some time, one of my happy hunting-grounds in the chase
for rare books bearing upon history; even now, when
my collection, of which the greater part has been trans-
ferred to Cornell University, numbers not far short of
forty thousand volumes, the old passion still flames up at
times; and during the inditing of this chapter I have
secured two series of manuscripts of very great value in
illustrating the evolution of modern civilization. My reason
for securing such original material was not the desire
to possess rarities and curiosities. I found that passages
actually read from important originals during my lectures
gave a reality and vividness to my instruction which were
otherwise unattainable. A citation of the ipsissima verba
of Erasmus, or Luther, or Melanchthon, or Peter Canisius,
or Louis XIV, or Robespierre, or Marat, interested my
students far more than any quotation at second hand could
do. No rhetoric could impress on a class the real spirit
and strength of the middle ages as could one of my
illuminated psalters or missals; no declamation upon the
boldness of Luther could impress thinking young men as
did citations from his ``Erfurt Sermon,'' which, by weakening
his safe-conduct, put him virtually at the mercy of
his enemies at the Diet of Worms; no statements as to the
fatuity of Robespierre could equal citations from an original
copy of his ``Report on the Moral and Religious
Considerations which Ought to Govern the Republic''; all
specifications of the folly of Marat paled before the
ravings in the original copies of his newspaper, ``L'Ami
du Peuple''; no statistics regarding the paper-money
craze in France could so impress its actuality on students
as did the seeing and handling of French revolutionary
assignats and mandats, many of them with registration
numbers clearly showing the enormous quantities of this
currency then issued; no illustration, at second hand,
of the methods of the French generals during the
Revolutionary period could produce the impression given
by a simple exhibition of the broadsides issued by the
proconsuls of that period; no description of the collapse
of the triumvirate and the Reign of Terror could
equal a half-hour's reading from the ``Moniteur'';
and all accounts of the Empire were dim compared
to grandiose statements read from the original bulletins
of Napoleon.

In this way alone can history be made real to students.
Both at my lectures and in the social gatherings at my
house, I laid out for my classes the most important originals
bearing upon their current work; and it was no small
pleasure to point out the relations of these to the events
which had formed the subject of our studies together. I
say ``our studies together,'' because no one of my students
studied more hours than myself. They stimulated me
greatly. Most of them were very near my own age; several
were older. As a rule, they were bright, inquiring,
zealous, and among them were some of the best minds I
have ever known. From among them have since come
senators, members of Congress, judges, professors,
lawyers, heads of great business enterprises, and foreign
ministers. One of them became my successor in the
professorship in the University of Michigan and the
presidency of Cornell, and, in one field, the leading American
historian of his time. Another became my predecessor in
the embassy to Germany. Though I had what might be
fairly called ``a good start'' of these men, it was necessary
to work hard to maintain my position; but such labor was
then pleasure.

Nor was my work confined to historical teaching. After
the fashion of that time, I was called upon to hear the
essays and discussions of certain divisions of the upper
classes. This demanded two evenings a week through two
terms in each year, and on these evenings I joyfully went
to my lecture-room, not infrequently through drifts of
snow, and, having myself kindled the fire and lighted the
lamps, awaited the discussion. This subsidiary work,
which in these degenerate days is done by janitors, is
mentioned here as showing the simplicity of a bygone
period. The discussions thus held were of a higher range
than any I had known at Yale, and some were decidedly
original. One deserves especial mention. A controversy
having arisen in Massachusetts and spread throughout the
country regarding the erection of a statue of Daniel Webster
in front of the State House at Boston, and bitter opposition
having been aroused by his seventh-of-March
speech, two groups of my student-disputants agreed to
take up this subject and model their speeches upon those
of Demosthenes and Aeschines on the crown, which they
were then reading in the original. It was a happy thought,
and well carried out.



It must be confessed that all was not plain sailing
in my new position. One difficulty arose from my
very youthful, not to say boyish, appearance. I was,
indeed, the youngest member of the faculty; but at
twenty-four years one has the right to be taken for a
man, and it was vexatious to be taken for a youth of
seventeen. At my first arrival in the university town
I noticed, as the train drew up to the station, a number
of students, evidently awaiting the coming of such
freshmen as might be eligible to the various fraternities;
and, on landing, I was at once approached by a sophomore,
who asked if I was about to enter the university. For an
instant I was grievously abashed, but pulling myself
together, answered in a sort of affirmative way; and at this
he became exceedingly courteous, taking pains to pilot me
to a hotel, giving me much excellent advice, and even
insisting on carrying a considerable amount of my baggage.
Other members of fraternities joined us, all most courteous
and kind, and the dnouement came only at the
registration of my name in the hotel book, when they
recognized in me ``the new professor.'' I must say to
their credit that, although they were for a time laughed
at throughout the university, they remained my warm
personal friends.

But after I had discharged the duties of my professorship
for a considerable period, this same difficulty existed.
On a shooting excursion, an old friend and myself came,
and, being very hungry, asked for bread and milk. My
companion being delayed outside, cleaning the guns, the
farmer's wife left me and went out to talk with him. I
continued eating my bread and milk voraciously, and
shortly afterward they entered, he laughing heartily and
she looking rather shamefaced. On my asking the cause
he declined for a time to state it, but at length said that
she had come out to warn him that if he did not come in
pretty soon ``that boy would eat up all the bread and milk
in the house.'' This story leaked out, and even appeared
in a local paper, but never, I think, did me any harm.

Another occurrence, shortly afterward, seemed likely
for a time to be more serious. The sophomore class,
exuberant and inventive as ever, were evidently determined
to ``try it on'' their young professor--in fact, to treat me
as they had treated their tutors. Any mistake made by a
student at a quiz elicited from sundry benches expressions
of regret much too plaintive, or ejaculations of contempt
much too explosive; and from these and various similar
demonstrations which grew every day among a certain set
in my class-room, it was easy to see that a trial of strength
must soon come, and it seemed to me best to force the
fighting. Looking over these obstreperous youths I noticed
one tall, black-bearded man with a keen twinkle in his eye,
who was evidently the leader. There was nothing in him
especially demonstrative. He would occasionally nod in
this direction, or wink in that, or smile in the other; but
he was solemn when others were hilarious, unconcerned
when others applauded. It was soon clear to me that in
him lay the key to the situation, and one day, at the close
of the examination, I asked him to remain. When we were
alone I said to him, in an easy-going way, ``So, F----, I
see that either you or I must leave the university.'' He
at once bristled up, feigned indignation, and said that he
could not understand me. This I pooh-poohed, saying that
we understood each other perfectly; that I had been only
recently a student myself; that, if the growing trouble in
the class continued, either he or I must give it up, and
added, ``I believe the trustees will prefer your departure to
mine.'' At this he protested that he had made no
demonstrations, to which I answered that if I put him on his
honor he would not deny that he was the real center of
the difficulty; that the others were, comparatively, men of
small account; and that, with him gone, the backbone of
the whole difficulty would be broken. He seemed
impressed by this view--possibly he was not wholly
displeased at the importance it gave him; and finally he
acknowledged that perhaps he had been rather foolish, and
suggested that we try to live together a little longer. I
answered cordially, we shook hands at parting, and there
was never any trouble afterward. I soon found what sort
of questions interested him most, took especial pains to
adapt points in my lectures to his needs, and soon had no
stronger friend in the university.

But his activity finally found a less fortunate outcome.
A year or two afterward came news of a terrible affair in
the university town. A student was lying dead at the
coroner's rooms, and on inquiry it was found that his
death was the result of a carousal in which my friend F----
was a leading spirit. Eight men were concerned, of
whom four were expelled--F---- being one--and four suspended.
On leaving, he came to me and thanked me most
heartily for what I had done for him, said that the action
of the faculty was perfectly just, that no other course was
open to us, but that he hoped yet to show us all that he
could make a man of himself. He succeeded. Five years
later he fell as a general at the head of his brigade at

In addition to my regular work at the university, I
lectured frequently in various cities throughout Michigan
and the neighboring States. It was the culminating period
of the popular-lecture system, and through the winter
months my Friday and Saturday evenings were generally
given to this sort of duty. It was, after its fashion, what
in these days is called ``university extension''; indeed, the
main purpose of those members of the faculty thus
invited to lecture was to spread the influence of the
university. But I received from the system more than I gave to
it; for it gave me not only many valuable acquaintances
throughout the West, but it brought to Ann Arbor the best
men then in the field, among them such as Emerson, Curtis,
Whipple, Wendell Phillips, Carl Schurz, Moncure
Conway, Bayard Taylor, and others noted then, but, alas,
how few of them remembered now! To have them by my
fireside and at my table was one of the greatest pleasures
of a professorial life. It was at the beginning of my
housekeeping; and under my roof on the university
grounds we felt it a privilege to welcome these wise men
from the East, and to bring the faculty and students into
closer relations with them.

As regards the popular-lecture pulpit, my main wish
was to set people thinking on various subjects, and
especially regarding slavery and ``protection.'' This
presently brought a storm upon me. Some years before there
had settled in the university town a thin, vociferous lawyer,
past his prime, but not without ideas and force. He
had for many years been a department subordinate at
Washington; but, having accumulated some money, he had
donned what was then known as senatorial costume--
namely, a blue swallow-tailed coat, and a buff vest, with
brass buttons--and coming to this little Michigan town
he had established a Whig paper, which afterward became
Republican. He was generally credited, no doubt justly,
with a determination to push himself into the United
States Senate; but this determination was so obvious that
people made light of it, and he never received the honor
of a nomination to that or any other position. The main
burden of his editorials was the greatness of Henry Clay,
and the beauties of a protective tariff, his material being
largely drawn from a book he had published some years
before; and, on account of the usual form of his arguments,
he was generally referred to, in the offhand Western
way, as ``Old Statistics.''

In a public lecture based upon my Russian experiences,
I had incidentally attacked paternal government, and
especially such developments of it as tariffs for protection.
The immediate result was a broadside from this
gentleman's paper, and this I answered in an article which
was extensively copied throughout the State. At this he
evidently determined to crush this intruder upon his
domain. That an ``upstart''--a ``mere school-teacher''--
should presume to reply to a man like himself, who had
sat at the feet of Henry Clay, and was old enough to be
my father, was monstrous presumption; but that a professor
in the State university of a commonwealth largely
Republican should avow free-trade opinions was akin to
treason, and through twelve successive issues of his
paper he lashed me in all the moods and tenses. As these
attacks soon became scurrilous, I made no reply to any
after the first; but his wrath was increased when he saw
my reply quoted by the press throughout the State and his
own diatribes neglected. Among his more serious charges
I remember but one, and this was that I had evidently
come into the State as a secret emissary of Van Burenism.
But I recalled the remark of my enemy's idol, Henry
Clay, to the effect that no one should ever reply to an
attack by an editor, a priest, or a woman, since each of
them is sure to have the last word. This feeling was soon
succeeded by indifference; for my lecture-rooms, both at
the university and throughout the State, were more and
more frequented, and it became clear that my opponent's
attacks simply advertised me. The following year I had
my revenge. From time to time debates on current topics
were held at the city hall, the participants being generally
young professional men; but, the subject of a tariff for
protection having been announced, my old enemy declared,
several weeks beforehand, his intention of taking part in
the discussion. Among my students that winter was one
of the most gifted young scholars and speakers I have
ever known. Not long after his graduation he was sent
to the United States Senate from one of the more important
Western States, and nothing but his early death
prevented his attaining a national reputation. He was a man
of convictions, strong and skilful in impressing them upon
his hearers, of fine personal appearance, with a pleasing
voice, and in every way fitted to captivate an audience.
Him I selected as the David who was to punish the
protectionist Goliath. He had been himself a protectionist,
having read Greeley's arguments in the ``New York
Tribune,'' but he had become a convert to my views, and
day after day and week after week I kept him in training
on the best expositions of free trade, and, above all, on
Bastiat's ``Sophisms of Protection.'' On the appointed
evening the city hall was crowded, and my young David
having modestly taken a back seat, the great Goliath
appeared at the front in full senatorial costume, furbished
up for the occasion, with an enormous collection of books
and documents; and, the subject being announced, he arose,
assumed his most imposing senatorial attitude, and began
a dry, statistical oration. His manner was harsh, his
matter wearisome; but he plodded on through an hour
--and then my David arose. He was at his best. In
five minutes he had the audience fully with him. Every
point told. From time to time the house shook with
applause; and at the close of the debate, a vote of the meeting
being taken after the usual fashion in such assemblies, my
old enemy was left in a ridiculous minority. Not only
free-traders, but even protectionists voted against him.
As he took himself very seriously, he was intensely
mortified, and all the more so when he learned from one of my
students that I now considered that we were ``even.''[4]

[4] The causes of my change of views on the question of
``protection'' are given in my political reminiscences.

The more I threw myself into the work of the university
the more I came to believe in the ideas on which it was
founded, and to see that it was a reality embodying many
things of which I had previously only dreamed. Up to
that time the highest institutions of learning in the United
States were almost entirely under sectarian control. Even
the University of Virginia, which Thomas Jefferson had
founded as a center of liberal thought, had fallen under
the direction of sectarians, and among the great majority
of the Northern colleges an unwritten law seemed to
require that a university president should be a clergyman.
The instruction in the best of these institutions was, as I
have shown elsewhere, narrow, their methods outworn,
and the students, as a rule, confined to one simple, single,
cast-iron course, in which the great majority of them took
no interest. The University of Michigan had made a
beginning of something better. The president was Dr.
Henry Philip Tappan, formerly a Presbyterian clergyman,
a writer of repute on philosophical subjects, a strong
thinker, an impressive orator, and a born leader of men,
who, during a visit to Europe, had been greatly impressed
by the large and liberal system of the German universities,
and had devoted himself to urging a similar system
in our own country. On the Eastern institutions--save,
possibly, Brown--he made no impression. Each of them
was as stagnant as a Spanish convent, and as self-satisfied
as a Bourbon duchy; but in the West he attracted
supporters, and soon his ideas began to show themselves
effective in the State university over which he had been
called to preside.

The men he summoned about him were, in the main,
admirably fitted to aid him. Dearest of all to me, though
several years my senior, was Henry Simmons Frieze,
professor of Latin. I had first met him at the University of
Berlin, had then traveled with him through Germany and
Italy, and had found him one of the most charming men
I had ever met--simple, modest, retiring to a fault, yet a
delightful companion and a most inspiring teacher. There
was in him a combination which at first seemed singular;
but experience has since shown me that it is by no means
unnatural, for he was not only an ideal professor of Latin,
but a gifted musician. The first revelation of this latter
quality was made to me in a manner which showed his
modesty. One evening during our student days at Berlin,
at a reception given by the American minister of that
period,--Governor Vroom of New Jersey,--I heard the
sound of music coming from one of the more distant
apartments. It was a sonata of Beethoven, wonderfully
interpreted, showing not only skill but deep feeling. On
my asking my neighbors who the performer might be,
no one seemed to know, until, at last, some one suggested
that it might be Professor Frieze. I made my way through
the crowd toward the room from which the sounds came,
but before arriving there the music had ended; and when I
met the professor shortly afterward, and asked him if he
had been the musician, his reply was so modest and evasive
that I thought the whole thing a mistake and said nothing
more about it. On our way to Italy some months
later, I observed that, as we were passing through Bohemia,
he jotted down in his note-book the quaint songs of the
peasants and soldiers, and a few weeks later still he gave an
exhibition of his genius. Sitting down one evening at the
piano on the little coasting steamer between Genoa and
Civit Vecchia, he began playing, and though it has
been my good fortune to hear all the leading pianists
of my time, I have never heard one who seemed to interpret
the masterpieces of music more worthily. At Ann Arbor
I now came to know him intimately. Once or twice a
week he came to my house, and, as mine was the only grand
piano in the town, he enjoyed playing upon it. His
extemporizations were flights of genius. At these gatherings
he was inspired by two other admirable musicians, one
being my dear wife, and the other Professor Brunnow, the
astronomer. Nothing could be more delightful than their
interpretations together of the main works of Beethoven
Handel, Mozart, Haydn, Weber, and other masters. On
one of these evenings, when I happened to speak of the
impression made upon me at my first hearing of a choral
in a German church, Frieze began playing Luther's hymn,
``Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott,'' throwing it into all
forms and keys, until we listened to his improvisations
in a sort of daze which continued until nearly midnight.
Next day, at St. Andrew's Church, he, as usual, had charge
of the organ. Into his opening voluntary he wove the
music of the preceding evening, the ``Feste Burg''; it
ran through all the chants of the morning service; it
pervaded the accompaniment to the hymns; it formed the
undertone of all the interludes; it was not relinquished
until the close of the postlude. And the same was true of
the afternoon service. I have always insisted that, had he
lived in Germany, he would have been a second Beethoven.
This will seem a grossly exaggerated tribute, but I do not
hesitate to maintain it. So passionately was he devoted
to music that at times he sent his piano away from his
house in order to shun temptation to abridge his professorial
work, and especially was this the case when he was
preparing his edition of Vergil. A more lovely spirit
never abode in mortal frame. No man was ever more
generally beloved in a community; none, more lamented at
his death. The splendid organ erected as a memorial to
him in the great auditorium of the university; the noble
monument which his students have placed over his grave;
his portrait, which hangs in one of the principal rooms;
the society which commemorates his name--all combine
to show how deeply he was respected and beloved.

Entwined also with my happiest recollections is Brunnow,
professor of astronomy and director of the observatory.
His eminence in his department was widely recognized,
as was shown when he was afterward made
director of the Dudley Observatory at Albany, N. Y., and,
finally, astronomer royal of Ireland. His musical abilities,
in connection with those of Frieze, aided to give a delightful
side to this period of my life. There was in him a quiet
simplicity which led those who knew him best to love him
most, but it occasionally provoked much fun among the
students. On one occasion, President Tappan, being
suddenly called out of town, requested Brunnow, who had
married his daughter and was an inmate of his family, to
find some member of the faculty to take his place at
morning prayers next day. Thereupon Brunnow visited sev-
eral professors, his first question to each of them being,
with his German use of the consonants, ``Professor, can
you BRAY?'' and henceforward this was added to the many
standing jokes upon him in the student world.

I also found at the university other admirable men, and
among those to whom I became specially attached was
Thomas M. Cooley. When he had become chief justice
of the State, and the most eminent writer of his time on the
Constitution of the United States, he was still the same
man, gentle, simple, and kindly. Besides these were
such well-known professors as Fasquelle in modern
literature; Williams, Douglass, and Winchell in science;
Boise in Greek; Palmer, Sager, and Gunn in medicine
and surgery; Campbell and Walker in law. Of these
Judge Campbell was to me one of the main attractions
of the place--a profound lawyer, yet with a kindly humor
which lighted up all about him. He was especially interested
in the early French history of the State, to which he
had been drawn by his study of the titles to landed property
in Detroit and its neighborhood, and some of his discoveries
were curious. One of these had reference to an
island in the straits near Detroit known as ``Skillagalee,''
which had puzzled him a long time. The name seemed to be
Irish, and the question was how an Irish name could have
been thus applied. Finally he found on an old map an earlier
name. It was le aus Galets, or Pebble Island, which, in
the mouths of Yankee sailors, had taken this apparently
Celtic form. Another case was that of a river in Canada
emptying into the straits not far from Detroit. It was
known as ``Yellow Dog River''; but, on rummaging
through the older maps, he discovered that the earlier
name was River St. John. To account for the transformation
was at first difficult, but the mystery was finally
unraveled: the Rivire St. Jean became, in the Canadian
patois, Rivire Saan Jawne, and gradually Rivire Chien
Jaune; recent geographers had simply translated it into

The features which mainly distinguished the University
of Michigan from the leading institutions of the East
were that it was utterly unsectarian, that various courses
of instruction were established, and that options were
allowed between them. On these accounts that university
holds a most important place in the history of American
higher education; for it stands practically at the beginning
of the transition from the old sectarian college to the
modern university, and from the simple, single, cast-iron
course to the form which we now know, in which various
courses are presented, with free choice between them. The
number of students was about five hundred, and the faculty
corresponded to these in numbers. Now that the
university includes over four thousand students, with a
faculty in proportion, those seem the days of small
things; but to me at that period it was all very grand. It
seemed marvelous that there were then very nearly as
many students at the University of Michigan as at Yale;
and, as a rule, they were students worth teaching--hardy,
vigorous, shrewd, broad, with faith in the greatness of
the country and enthusiasm regarding the nation's future.
It may be granted that there was, in many of them, a
lack of elegance, but there was neither languor nor
cynicism. One seemed, among them, to breathe a purer,
stronger air. Over the whole institution Dr. Tappan
presided, and his influence, both upon faculty and students,
was, in the main, excellent. He sympathized heartily with
the work of every professor, allowed to each great liberty,
yet conducted the whole toward the one great end of
developing a university more and more worthy of our
country. His main qualities were of the best. Nothing
could be better than his discussions of great questions of
public policy and of education. One of the noblest
orations I have ever heard was an offhand speech of his on
receiving for the university museum a cast of the Laocon
from the senior class; yet this speech was made without
preparation, and in the midst of engrossing labor. He
often showed, not only the higher qualities required in a
position like his, but a remarkable shrewdness and tact in
dealing with lesser questions. Typical was one example,
which taught me much when, in after years, I was called
to similar duties at Cornell. The present tower and chime
of the University of Michigan did not then exist; between
the two main buildings on the university grounds there
was simply a wooden column, bearing a bell of moderate
size, which was rung at every lecture-hour by the principal
janitor. One cold winter night those of us living in the
immediate neighborhood heard the sound of axe-strokes.
Presently there came a crash, and all was still. Next
morning, at the hour for chapel, no bell was rung; it
was found that the column had been cut down and the bell
carried off. A president of less shrewdness would have
declaimed to the students on the enormity of such a
procedure, and have accentuated his eloquence with threats.
Not so Dr. Tappan. At the close of the morning prayers
he addressed the students humorously. There was a great
attendance, for all wished to know how he would deal
with the affair. Nothing could be better than his matter
and manner. He spoke somewhat on this wise: ``Gentlemen,
there has doubtless been a mistake in the theory of
some of you regarding the college bell. It would seem
that some have believed that if the bell were destroyed,
time would cease, and university exercises would be
suspended. But, my friends, time goes on as ever, without
the bell as with it; lectures and exercises of every sort
continue, of course, as usual. The only thing which has
occurred is that some of you have thought it best to
dispense with the aid in keeping time which the regents of
the university have so kindly given you. Knowing that
large numbers of you were not yet provided with watches,
the regents very thoughtfully provided the bell, and a man
to ring it for you at the proper hours; and they will doubtless
be pleased to learn that you at last feel able to dispense
with it, and save them the expense of maintaining
it. You are trying an interesting experiment. In most
of the leading European universities, students get along
perfectly without a bell; why should we not? In the interests
of the finances of the university, I am glad to see
you trying this experiment, and will only suggest that it
be tried thoroughly. Of course the rolls will be called in the
lecture-rooms promptly, as usual, and you will, of course,
be present. If the experiment succeeds, it will enable us
to dispense with a university bell forever; but if, after a
suitable time, you decide that it is better to have the bell
back again to remind you of the hours, and if you will make
a proper request to the regents through me, I trust that
they will allow you to restore it to its former position.''

The students were greatly amused to see the matter
taken in this way. They laughingly acknowledged themselves
outwitted, and greeted the doctor's speech with applause.
All of the faculty entered into the spirit of the
matter; rolls were called perhaps rather more promptly
than formerly, and students not present were marked
rather more mercilessly than of old. There was evidently
much reluctance on their part to ask for excuses, in view
of the fact that they had themselves abolished the bell
which had enabled them to keep the time; and one morning,
about a month or six weeks later, after chapel, a big
jolly student rose and asked permission to make a motion.
This motion was that the president of the university be
requested to allow the students to restore the bell to its
former position. The proposal was graciously received by
the doctor, put by him after the usual parliamentary manner,
carried unanimously, and, a few mornings later, the
bell was found in its old place on a new column, was rung
as usual, and matters went on after the old fashion.

Every winter Dr. Tappan went before the legislature
to plead the cause of the university, and to ask for
appropriations. He was always heard with pleasure, since he
was an excellent speaker; but certain things militated
against him. First of all, he had much to say of the
excellent models furnished by the great German universities,
and especially by those of Prussia. This gave demagogues
in the legislature, anxious to make a reputation in
buncombe, a great chance. They orated to the effect that
we wanted an American and not a Prussian system. Moreover,
some unfortunate legends were developed. Mrs.
Tappan, a noble and lovely woman belonging to the
Livingston family, had been brought up in New York and
New England, and could hardly suppress her natural
preference for her old home and friends. A story grew
that in an assembly of Michigan ladies she once remarked
that the doctor and herself considered themselves as
``missionaries to the West.'' This legend spread far and
wide. It was resented, and undoubtedly cost the doctor dear.

The worst difficulty by far which he had to meet was the
steady opposition of the small sectarian colleges scattered
throughout the State. Each, in its own petty interest,
dreaded the growth of any institution better than itself;
each stirred the members of the legislature from its locality
to oppose all aid to the State university; each, in its
religious assemblages, its synods, conferences, and the
like, sought to stir prejudice against the State institution
as ``godless.'' The result was that the doctor, in spite of
his eloquent speeches, became the butt of various wretched
demagogues in the legislature, and he very rarely secured
anything in the way of effective appropriations. The
university had been founded by a grant of public lands from
the United States to Michigan; and one of his arguments
was based on the fact that an immensely valuable tract, on
which a considerable part of the city of Toledo now stands,
had been taken away from the university without any
suitable remuneration. But even this availed little, and
it became quite a pastime among demagogues at the
State Capitol to bait the doctor. On one of these occasions
he was inspired to make a prophecy. Disgusted at the
poor, cheap blackguardism, he shook the dust of the legislature
off his feet, and said: ``The day will come when my
students will take your places, and then something will be
done.'' That prophecy was fulfilled. In a decade the
leading men in the legislature began to be the graduates
of the State university; and now these graduates are
largely in control, and they have dealt nobly with their
alma mater. The State has justly become proud of it, and
has wisely developed it.

Dr. Tappan's work was great, indeed. He stood not
only at the beginning of the institution at Ann Arbor, but
really at the beginning of the other universities of the
Western States, from which the country is gaining so
much at present, and is sure to gain vastly more in the
future. The day will come when his statue will commemorate
his services.

But there was another feature in his administration to
which I refer with extreme reluctance. He had certain
``defects of his qualities.'' Big, hearty, frank, and
generous, he easily became the prey of those who wrought
upon his feelings; and, in an evil hour, he was drawn into
a quarrel not his own, between two scientific professors.
This quarrel became exceedingly virulent; at times it
almost paralyzed the university, and finally it convulsed the
State. It became the main object of the doctor's thoughts.
The men who had drawn him into it quietly retired under
cover, and left him to fight their battle in the open. He
did this powerfully, but his victories were no less calamitous
than his defeats; for one of the professors, when
overcome, fell back upon the church to which he belonged,
and its conference was led to pass resolutions warning
Christian people against the university. The forces of
those hostile to the institution were marshaled to the sound
of the sectarian drum. The quarrel at last became political;
and when the doctor unwisely entered the political
field in hopes of defeating the candidates put forward by
his opponents, he was beaten at the polls, and his resignation
followed. A small number of us, including Judge
Cooley and Professors Frieze, Fasquelle, Boise, and myself,
simply maintained an ``armed neutrality,'' standing
by the university, and refusing to be drawn into this
whirlpool of intrigue and objurgation. Personally, we
loved the doctor. Every one of us besought him to give up
the quarrel, but in vain. He would not; he could not. It
went on till the crash came. He was virtually driven from
the State, retired to Europe, and never returned.

Years afterward, the citizens of Michigan in all parts of
the State sought to make amends to him. The great body
of the graduates, who loved and respected him, with leading
men throughout the commonwealth, joined in a letter
inviting him to return as a public guest; but he declined,
and never again saw his native land. His first main place
of residence was Basel, where, at the university, he
superintended the education of his grandson, who, at a later
period, became a professor at Heidelberg. Finally, he
retired to a beautiful villa on the shores of Lake Leman
and there, with his family about him, peacefully followed
his chosen studies. At his death he was buried amid the
vineyards and orchards of Vevey.

Though I absolutely refused to be drawn into any of
his quarrels, my relations with the doctor remained kindly
and not a single feeling was left which marred my visit
to him in after years at Basel, or my later pilgrimage to
his grave on the shores of Lake Leman. To no man is any
success I may have afterward had in the administration
of Cornell University so greatly due as to him.

In this summary I have hardly touched upon the most
important part of my duty,--namely, the purpose of my
lecture-courses, with their relations to that period in the
history of our country, and to the questions which thinking
men, and especially thinking young men, were then
endeavoring to solve,--since all this has been given in my
political reminiscences.

So much for my main work at the University of Michigan.
But I had one recreation which was not without its
uses. The little city of Ann Arbor is a beautiful place on
the Huron River, and from the outset interested me.
Even its origin had a peculiar charm. About a quarter
of a century before my arrival, three families came from
the East to take up the land which they had bought
of the United States; and, as their three holdings touched
each other at one corner, they brought boughs of trees
to that spot and erected a sort of hut, or arbor, in which
to live until their log houses were finished. On coming
together in this arbor they discovered that the
Christian name of each of the three wives was Ann:
hence the name of the place; and this fact gave a
poetic coloring to it which was a permanent pleasure to
me. It was an unending satisfaction to reflect that no
misguided patriot had been allowed to inflict upon that
charming university town the name of ``Athens,'' or
``Oxford,'' or ``Socratopolis,'' or ``Anacreonsburg,'' or
``Platoville,'' or ``Emporium,'' or ``Eudaimonia.'' What, but
for those three good women, the name might have been,
may be judged from the fact that one of the founders of
the university did his best to have it called a

But there was one drawback. The ``campus,'' on which
stood the four buildings then devoted to instruction,
greatly disappointed me. It was a flat, square inclosure
of forty acres, unkempt and wretched. Throughout
its whole space there were not more than a score of
trees outside the building sites allotted to professors;
unsightly plank walks connected the buildings, and in
every direction were meandering paths, which in dry weather
were dusty and in wet weather muddy. Coming, as
I did, from the glorious elms of Yale, all this distressed
me, and one of my first questions was why no trees had
been planted. The answer was that the soil was so hard
and dry that none would grow. But on examining
the territory in the neighborhood, especially the little
inclosures about the pretty cottages of the town, I found
fine large trees, and among them elms. At this, without
permission from any one, I began planting trees within the
university inclosure; established, on my own account,
several avenues; and set out elms to overshadow them.
Choosing my trees with care, carefully protecting and
watering them during the first two years, and gradually
adding to them a considerable number of evergreens, I
preached practically the doctrine of adorning the campus.
Gradually some of my students joined me; one class after
another aided in securing trees and in planting them,
others became interested, until, finally, the university
authorities made me ``superintendent of the grounds,''
and appropriated to my work the munificent sum of
seventy-five dollars a year. So began the splendid growth
which now surrounds those buildings. These trees became
to me as my own children. Whenever I revisit Ann Arbor
my first care is to go among them, to see how they prosper,
and especially how certain peculiar examples are flourishing;
and at my recent visit, forty-six years after their
planting, I found one of the most beautiful academic
groves to be seen in any part of the world.

The most saddening thing during my connection with
the university I have touched upon in my political
reminiscences. Three years after my arrival the Civil War
broke out, and there came a great exodus of students into
the armies, the vast majority taking up arms for the
Union, and a few for the Confederate States. The very
noblest of them thus went forth--many of them, alas!
never to return, and among them not a few whom I loved
as brothers and even as my own children. Of all the
experiences of my life, this was among the most saddening.

My immediate connection with the University of Michigan
as resident professor of history lasted about six years;
and then, on account partly of business interests which
resulted from the death of my father, partly of my election
to the New York State Senate, and partly of my
election to the presidency of Cornell University, I resided
in central New York, but retained a lectureship at the
Western institution. I left the work and the friends who
had become so dear to me with the greatest reluctance, and
as long as possible I continued to revisit the old scenes,
and to give courses of lectures. But at last my duties at
Cornell absolutely forbade this, and so ended a connection
which was to me one of the most fruitful in useful
experiences and pregnant thoughts that I have ever known.





To Trinity Hall at Hobart College may be assigned
whatever honor that shadowy personage, the future
historian, shall think due the place where was conceived
and quickened the germ idea of Cornell University. In
that little stone barrack on the shore of Seneca Lake, rude
in its architecture but lovely in its surroundings, a room
was assigned me during my first year at college; and in
a neighboring apartment, with charming views over the
lake and distant hills, was the library of the Hermean
Society. It was the largest collection of books I had ever
seen,--four thousand volumes,--embracing a mass of
literature from ``The Pirate's Own Book'' to the works of
Lord Bacon. In this paradise I reveled, browsing through
it at my will. This privilege was of questionable value,
since it drew me somewhat from closer study; but it was
not without its uses. One day I discovered in it Huber and
Newman's book on the English universities. What a new
world it opened! My mind was sensitive to any impression
it might make, on two accounts: first, because, on the
intellectual side, I was woefully disappointed at the
inadequacy of the little college as regarded its teaching force
and equipment; and next, because, on the esthetic side, I
lamented the absence of everything like beauty or fitness in
its architecture.

As I read in this new-found book of the colleges at
Oxford and Cambridge, and pored over the engraved
views of quadrangles, halls, libraries, chapels,--of all the
noble and dignified belongings of a great seat of learning,
--my heart sank within me. Every feature of the little
American college seemed all the more sordid. But gradually
I began consoling myself by building air-castles.
These took the form of structures suited to a great
university:--with distinguished professors in every field, with
libraries as rich as the Bodleian, halls as lordly as that of
Christ Church or of Trinity, chapels as inspiring as that
of King's, towers as dignified as those of Magdalen and
Merton, quadrangles as beautiful as those of Jesus and
St. John's. In the midst of all other occupations I was
constantly rearing these structures on that queenly site
above the finest of the New York lakes, and dreaming of
a university worthy of the commonwealth and of the nation.
This dream became a sort of obsession. It came
upon me during my working hours, in the class-rooms, in
rambles along the lake shore, in the evenings, when I paced
up and down the walks in front of the college buildings,
and saw rising in their place and extending to the
pretty knoll behind them, the worthy home of a great
university. But this university, though beautiful and
dignified, like those at Oxford and Cambridge, was in two
important respects very unlike them. First, I made
provision for other studies beside classics and mathematics.
There should be professors in the great modern
literatures--above all, in our own; there should also be a
professor of modern history and a lecturer on architecture.
And next, my university should be under control of
no single religious organization; it should be free from all
sectarian or party trammels; in electing its trustees and
professors no questions should be asked as to their belief
or their attachment to this or that sect or party. So far, at
least, I went in those days along the road toward the
founding of Cornell.

The academic year of 1849-1850 having been passed at
this little college in western New York, I entered Yale.
This was nearer my ideal; for its professors were more
distinguished, its equipment more adequate, its students
more numerous, its general scope more extended. But it
was still far below my dreams. Its single course in classics
and mathematics, through which all students were
forced alike, regardless of their tastes, powers, or aims;
its substitution of gerund-grinding for ancient literature;
its want of all instruction in modern literature; its
substitution of recitals from text-books for instruction in
history--all this was far short of my ideal. Moreover,
Yale was then far more under denominational control
than at present--its president, of necessity, as was then
supposed, a Congregational minister; its professors, as a
rule, members of the same sect; and its tutors, to whom
our instruction during the first two years was almost
entirely confined, students in the Congregational Divinity.

Then, too, its outward representation was sordid and
poor. The long line of brick barracks, the cheapest which
could be built for money, repelled me. What a contrast
to Oxford and Cambridge, and, above all, to my air-
castles! There were, indeed, two architectural consolations:
one, the library building, which had been built just
before my arrival; and the other, the Alumni Hall, begun
shortly afterward. These were of stone, and I snatched
an especial joy from the grotesque Gothic heads in the
cornices of the library towers and from the little latticed
windows at the rear of the Alumni Hall. Both seemed to
me features worthy of ``colleges and halls of ancient

The redeeming feature of the whole was its setting,
the ``green,'' with superb avenues overarched by elms;
and a further charm was added by East and West Rock,
and by the views over New Haven Harbor into Long
Island Sound. Among these scenes I erected new air-
castles. First of all, a great quadrangle, not unlike that
which is now developing at Yale, and, as a leading
feature, a gate-tower like that since erected in memory
of William Walter Phelps, but, unlike that, adorned
with statues in niches and on corbels, like those on the
entrance tower of Trinity at Cambridge--statues of old
Yalensian worthies, such as Elihu Yale in his costume of
the Georgian period, Bishop Berkeley in his robes,
President Dwight in his Geneva gown, and Nathan Hale in
fetters. There was also in my dream another special
feature, which no one has as yet attempted to realize--a lofty
campanile, which I placed sometimes at the intersection of
College and Church, and sometimes at the intersection of
College and Elm streets--a clock-tower looking proudly
down the slope, over the traffic of the town, and bearing a
deep-toned peal of bells.

My general ideas on the subject were further developed
by Charles Astor Bristed's book, ``Five Years in an
English University,'' and by sundry publications regarding
student life in Germany. Still, my opinions regarding
education were wretchedly imperfect, as may be judged
from one circumstance. The newly established Sheffield
Scientific School had just begun its career in the old
president's house in front of the former Divinity Hall on
the college green; and, one day in my senior year, looking
toward it from my window in North College, I saw a
student examining a colored liquid in a test-tube. A feeling
of wonder came over me! What could it all be about?
Probably not a man of us in the whole senior class had
any idea of a chemical laboratory save as a sort of small
kitchen back of a lecture-desk, like that in which an assistant
and a colored servant prepared oxygen, hydrogen, and
carbonic acid for the lectures of Professor Silliman. I
was told that this new laboratory was intended for experiment,
and my wonder was succeeded by disgust that any
human being should give his time to pursuits so futile.

The next period in the formation of my ideas regarding
a university began, after my graduation at Yale, during
my first visit to Oxford. Then and at later visits, both to
Oxford and Cambridge, I not only reveled in the architectural
glories of those great seats of learning, but learned
the advantages of college life in common--of the ``halls,''

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