Joseph Lyon Miller.

American monthly review online

. (page 3 of 54)
Online LibraryJoseph Lyon MillerAmerican monthly review → online text (page 3 of 54)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

cessor. Under his energetic administration the welfare of the
institution both in discipline and instruction was signally pro-
moted. He departed somewhat from the scholastic tendency
of the age, and introduced ^^ a taste for useful and polite
literature.'' It was in his time that Bishop Berkeley became
a munificent patron of the College, by the gift of one thou-
sand volumes of choice books, and a valuable farm in New-
Ert, Rhode Island, where he resided while in America.
r. Williams, in consequence of ill heath, resigned his office
in 1739. The Trustees voted him '^ their hearty thanks for
his good service in the College.'' During the remainder of
his life he resided at Wethersfield. He became a member
and speaker of the House of Assembly, a Judge of the Su-
perior Court, and " was appoined Colonel of a regiment, on
a proposed expedition against Canada." Dr. Doddridge and
President Stiles unite in giving him a character of ardent reli-
gion, nobleness of soul, and great and highly cultivated intel-
lectual powers.

The Rev. Thomas Clap was immediately chosen his suc-
cessor. He was bom in Scituate, Massachusetts, and was
Ciduated at Harvard College in 1722, when the worthy John
verett presided over that insitution. He was settled in

Digitized by


1832.] Annah of Tale College. 6

the ministry at Windham, in Connecticut During the Presi-
dency of Mr. Clap several improvements were made of a
beneficial character. He compiled a new code of laws ;
prepared an alphabetical and analytical catalogue of the
library, which had already, from the donations of Bbhop
Berkeley and other friends, become respectable ; increased
the number of instructers ; built the South Middle College ;
was instrumental in establishing a professorship of Divinity,
and in connexion with Governor Fitch, drew up a new
charter, which was approved by the Assembly, and thus
secured to the College in due form all its rights, privi-
leges, and immunities. The taste of President Clap inclined
him to the severer studies of the mathen^atics, polemic divin-
ity, and philosophy, and his example had an influence upon
the students. Hence there was a departure in some measure
from the direction given to college studies by his immediate
predecessor. He was doubtless a very learned man, and not
only so ; not a mere scholastic, he turned his attention to a
variety of pursuits, and easily made himself master of what-
ever department of learning he undertook. And more than
this, he possessed remarkable energy of character and direct-
ness of purpose, and aided most liberally, both in time and
money, the institution whose interests- he had much at heart
He resigned his office in 1766, and died at New Haven in
January following.

With all his exertions, and partly perhaps in consequence
of them. President Clap had become very unpopular. But
the truth of the matter is, that he had too much good s^nse,
conscience, and independence, to yield to a popular excite-
ment which at that time, and for many subsequent years,
prevailed against the institution on the very theatre of its
operations and usefulness. This may have been owing in
part to the organization of the institution, and to the finct
that none but clei^ymen, and they only of one denomination,
controlled its affairs. Whatever may have been the cause, an
attempt was made by several of the leading men to subject
the College to ^' the visitatorial power of commissioners " un-
der the appointment of the General Assembly. Two of the
leading lawyers in the Colony were retained for the purpose
of carrying this measure before the Assembly. President
Clap hmiself undertook the defence of the charter, and de-
nied the right of the Assembly to interfere in the concerns

Digitized by


6 Awruds of Tale Cottege. [Jan.

of the College. Though no lawyer, he pursued his re-^
searches in the common law, and when the hearing came,
astonished every one with the variety and extent of his learn*
ing, and the soundness of his le^al opinions. He proved that
the Assembly could not be the founder or visitor m the sense
of the common law ; that the first trustees were the founders
before the first charter was obtained, and confirmed their
right by a << large and formal donation of books " ; and con-
sequently, that they and their successors possessed the whole
visitatorial power. He succeeded in convincing the Assem-*
bly of the truth of his position, much to the chagrin of the
memorialists. Trumbull says, that '^ he appeared to be
superior to all the lawyers, so that his antagonists acknow-
ledged that he knew more and was wiser than all of them."

Mr. Baldwin remarks, that ^' the policy of the opposition
to the power of visitation may well be questioned." But we
think that President Ciap was right on the score of policy,
as well as of principle. If the right of visitation implied
merely the rieht of being present during college exercises
at certain penods, an opposition thereto on the part of the
College might be objectionable on the score of policy. But
the objection is exceedingly well founded, when we recol*.
lect that the right of visitation was claimed for the Assem-
bly, as being the founder of the institution, and that a sub-
mission on the part of the College would have been an
acknowledgment of this right too explicit to be afterwards
overcome or denied ; and lasting honor is due to the Presi-
dent for preserving the College irom the tender mercies of a
fluctuating, and therefore in some measure of an irresponsi-
ble body. It was certainly well afterwards, not indeed as a
matter of right, but of courtesy, to admit a portion of the
state government to visit in connexion with the Trustees,
but not to allow a popular assembly at its will to take the
management of the College, control its operations, and alter
at pleasure its constitution. Bowdoin College a few years
since submitted its charter to the will of the legislature from
motives of policy, and already begins to experience the more
than doubtful benefits of the measure.

President Clap deserves to be remembered with gratitude
in all ages by those who are friendly to the integrity, safety,
and interests of our colleges, for the noble stand he main-
tained ; and the decision of the celebrated case of Dartmouth

Digitized by


1B83.] Jismali of Yale College. 7

College fiiUy sustains and perpetuates the correctness of his
Tiews. The effect of this opposition was, no doubt, for
awhile injurious to the institution, and so late as 1784, a
pamphlet was published in Connecticut, entitled ^^ Yale Col-
lege subject to the General Assembly," where his argument
is criticised with more severity than strength, and the CoU
lege is spoken of as languishing, because it will not submit
to the oversight or the Assembly. But the distressed state
of the country at that period, in connexion with remaining
and unjust prejudices, may have had its full share in its influ-
ence upon the College. Mr. Baldwin remarks, and we think
justly, that President Clap was the greatest man who ever
sat at the bead of that institution. His defence of the charter
was praise enough for one man.

To President Clap succeeded the Rev. Naphtali Dagget, a
native of Attleborough, Massachusetts, a graduate ofiale
College in 1748, afterwards minister of Smithtown, Long Isl-
and, and Professor of Divinity at Yale College. During his
presidency a professorship of mathematics and natural philo-
sophy was established. He was distinguished for his learning
in the various branches of theological study, and on the whole,
was a successful officer through a very gloomy period in the
history of our country. He resigned his office in 1777, and
died in 1780.

President Stiles came into office in 1777. He was a native
of North Haven, and was graduated at Yale College in 1746i
He studied and practised law for a few years, but afterwards
resumed the study of divinity, which be had begun on leaving
college, and became the minister of the Second Congrega-
tional Society in Newport, Rhode Island. He was a man of
dbtinguished talents and varied learning, and was particularly
versed in the Oriental, Greek, and Latin language^, and in
astronomy. He was an instrument of much good to the Col-
lege. Possessing a catholic spirit and marked energy of
character, he became highly popular as the head of the Col-
lege, and labored much and successfully for its interests. In
1783, he had two hundred and seventy pupils.

In 1792, with the consent of the College, the charter was
altered, and the Governor with the six senior assistants was
added to the Corporation. This was done with the good
will of all parties, and not as yielding to any new claim set
up by the legislature, as possessing the right of founder.

Digitized by


8 AnndU of Yale College. [Jan.

Thus constituted the Corporation has enjoyed public faror;
perhaps greater than before, bat with no very remarkable
legislative bounty. We should gladly enlai^e upon the learn-
ing, zeal, talents, and temperament of President Stiles, and
his heathful influence in every thing that concerns the Col-
lege ; but we have already trenched upon our limits. A full
and interesting biography of this distinguished scholar and
Christian has been published by his relative, the Rev. Dr.
Holmes. He died at New Haven in 1795, after a confinement
of four days. It is a singular fact, that he was the first resident
President who died in the office.

The remembrance of the late Dr. Dwight, the successor
of President Stiles, is so fresh in the mmds of our readers,
that it can hardly be necessary to enlarge upon his character.
Many in every part of our country, who were educated at
Yale College when he was at its head, rejoice in his memory
and in the good fortune of having been his pupils. When
he came to the chair, the only officers of instruction were
a Professor of Mathematics and three tutors. He himself
performed the duties of Professor of Divinity, and labored
successfully in establishing the professorships of Law, of
Chemistry and Mineralogy, of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin,
and in laying the foundation of the Medical School. He
abolished all that remained of that servile custom that ren-
dered the freshmen, as it were, ** hewers of wood and draw-
ers of water " to the higher classes. He revised the whole
system of laws, and established a better corrective than
pecuniary penalties. He widened the field and the objects
of study, devoted his vigorous powers to the interests of
the College, and through ^' his reputation, his suavity of
manners, and experience as an instructer," large numbers
were induced to resort to the institution to enjoy its benefits.

President Dwight was a native of Northampton, Massa-
chusetts. He was graduated at Yale College in 1769. After
being a tutor at College some time, he returned to North-
ampton to reside, and represented that town in the legisla-
ture of Massachusetts in 1781 and 1782. While m the
legislature, he is said to have been mainly instrumental in
obtaining a grant for the University at Cambridge, that had
been just before refused by the House. In 1783, he was
settled in the ministry at Fairfield, in Connecticut, where be
xemained till he was called to preside over the College.

Digitized by


1633.] Annah of Yale College. 9

His worthy successor, President Day, has been fortunate
in sustaining the character of the College that has been en-
trusted to his charge. Since he carae into the office in 1817,
several professorships have been established, viz. those of
Rhetoric and Oratory, of Didactic Theology, and of Sacred
Literature ; while that of Divmity has been detached from
the presidency.

A few years ago a committee of the Corporation was
chosen to consider the expediency of omitting the ancient
classics in the course of study in the institution. The
committee seem to have fully investigated the subject, and
made an elaborate report, embracing another, made in behalf
of the Faculty, vindicating the routine of study at the Col-
lege. These reports, which are attributed to the President
and Professor Kingsley, are spoken of by Mr. Baldwin in
terms of praise. They had the desired effect, and were
accepted by the Corporation.

There is one practice that still maintains its ground at
Yale College. We mean the dramatic representations on
Commencement day. We are happy to find that Mr. Bald-
win passes his censure upon it. It is entirely out of charac-
ter in literary exhibitions, and answers no one good purpose.
He justly represents it as a '' ridiculous and timid imitation
of the regular drama. ... In the entire absence of scenery,
unsupported by female actors, and on a stage surrounded by a
venerable circle of clergymen and senators, every effort for
dramatic display at Commencement must prove abortive."
In reality these '^ exercises do not usually equal the most in-
different performances of the theatre." We recollect well,
in spending commencement day at New Haven a few years
since, witnessing the performance of a tragedy (so called),
in which William Tell, the hero of Switzerland, figured
largely. And there was Geisler, the Austrian Governor,
and his adherents. And they all mounted the stage with
their good broad swords at their side, and fretted and fumed
their little hour. Oh ! it was more, it extended through
three acts of monotonous dialogue, till our patience was ex-
hausted. Swords were drawn, and things appeared of fearful
import. At last one of the performers fainted away and was
carried from the stage ; but still no relief. Another man at
arms stepped up to take his place, reading his part from a
huge manuscript he held in one hand, and sawing the air

VOL. I. NO. I. 2

Digitized by


10 AfmaU of Yah College. [Jan.

furiously with the other. We regretted that these things
were tolerated, and lament that they still retain their hold.
The governors of the College, as wise and prudent men,
should recollect that this usage is at war with good taste, and
should banish the buskin and sock from their literary anni-
versary, as we believe they have already been banished from
every other respectable college, and from our principal acad-

Yale College is now in a more flourishing condition than
at any former time. Its funds are not large ; but it has done
extensive good with moderate means. It has received from
the state for a period of one hundred and thirty years over
^71,000. In the mean while, the munificence of pri-
vate benefactors has been much more considerable. The
Society of the Alumni, lately formed there, ' subscribed
^30,000 towards relieving the College from pecuniary em-
barrassment, and are pledged to use their individual exer*
tions to increase the sum to $100,000.

The buildings of the College are in a delightful and healthy
situation. In 1830, there were forty-nine theological stu-
dents, and a respectable number of law students. The num-
ber of undergraduates exceeds that at any of our other col-
leges. The whole number of graduates, ab primo origine,
to the year 1830, inclusive, is four thdusand four hundred
and sixty-two ; of these, two thousand four hundred and
forty-four were living in 1830. The whole number of
clergymen on the Catalogue is one thousand and sixty-
seven, of whom four hundred and fifty-three were living.
The terms of admission, matriculation, and the course of
instruction are much the same as at Cambridge. The
necessary expenses for a student, not including apparel,
pocket-money, travelling, and boarding during vacations, is
about the same, viz. from $140 to $190. The college
library contains towards ten thousand volumes, and there is
nearly an equal number in the social libraries of the under-
graduates. The chemical department, through the exertions
of Professor Silliman, has attained to great completeness.
The mineralogical cabinet that in 1803 literally filled but a
single ^^ candle-box," is now the lai^est and most magnificent
in the country, and we are not sure that it is exceeded in
completeness by the excellent cabinet at Cambridge. The
former was purchased partly of Mr. Benjamin D. Perkins^

Digitized by


1888.] Aimah of Yah College. n

but principally of Colonel Gibbs, whose collation consisted
of ten thousand specimens, purchased by him in Europe.
This collection was generously deposited in the College in
1810, by the owner, and there remained open for the use of
instructers and students till 1825. In that year it was bought
of him for ||20,000. Of this sum the officers of the College
and the citizens of New Haven contributed $10,000.

The Address of Chancellor Kent is characterized, like
every thing from his pen, by great vigor and freshness, while
it derives additional interest from the chrcumstance that fifty
yean ago he addressed a literary assembly from the same
spot. The author treats at some length of the policy and
institutions of the early Connecticut settlers, as highly favor-
able to the establishment and success of a college. He then
gives a brief historical sketch of the institution, with its vari-
ous stages of progress, and remarks upon the extensive and
beneficial influence it has exerted upon the welfare of the
country. We are pleased to see, that without detracting
from the importance of the exact sciences and mechanical
philosophy, he enters with earnestness into the defence of
the study of ancient languages and literature, and is disposed
to sustain them at their real value. The remarks seem par-
ticularly well timed, since there is so much loose and idle
declamation afloat upon the subject in the community, and
the classics are in danger of being wounded in the house of
their friends. And more than all, it is pleasing to have the
testimony of learning and experience in favor of the appro-
priate pursuit of youth, the delight of manhood, and the
solace of old age.

We cannot conclude without again ofiering our thanks to
Mr. Baldwin for his interesting and useful volume. It is
written with no idle parade, but in a sober, business-like man-
ner, and yet with all the warmth and affection of a devoted
son. Works of this character are of no mean value. They
show, in some measure, though' they cannot possibly show
fully, the deep, the vital importance of our literary institu-
tions ; and would convince the unreflecting, and all who have
not a malignant disposition, that in no way can the welfare
of the country be more seriously, more vitally injured, than
by a successful attack upon the independence and usefulness
of our literary institutions. If their wholesome influence be
cniBhedy if their means of doing good, their facilities for fiu*

Digitized by


. 13 Hebrew Grammar and Manuals. [Jan.

nishing thorough education be taken away, or be left to the
shifting tide of the popular will, then may we indeed despair
of our republic.

It is time, that our elder colleges had their Athena and
their Fasti, under the auspices of some native Anthony
Wood. And we would commend the despised diligence of
our local iantiquaries, men who gather and embody isolated
facts, men whom an accurate date, or the certainty of a name
or an event, quickens and refreshes. They make their silent
gatherings, and collect numerous pleasing and curious inci-
dents, which go to illustrate the manners of the age, as well
as individual character; and while they labor neither for im-
mediate nor posthumous fame, they heap up for the future
annalist, historian, and biographer, and for an unconscious
posterity, the neglected treasures of a preceding age.

Art. II. вАФ 1. A Grammar of the Hebrew Language^ by
MosEs Stuart, Associate Professor of Sacred Litera-
ture in the Theological Institution at Andover. Fourth
edition, corrected and enlarged. Andover. Flagg &
Gould. 1831. 8vo.

2. A Hebrew Chrestomathy, designed as the First Volume

of a Course of Hebrew Study. By Moses Stuart,
Associate Professor of Sacred Literature in the Theologi-
cal Institution at Andover. Flagg & Gould. 1829. 8vo.

3. A Manual Hebrew and English Lexicon ; including the

Biblical Chaldee ; designed particularly for Beginners.
By JosiAH W. GiBBs, A. M., Professor of Sacred Lite-
rature in the Theological School in Yale College. Ando-
ver. Flagg & Gould. 1828. 8vo.

These works constitute quite a sufficient apparatus for
learners in the Hebrew language. Professor Stuart's Gram-
mar, which originally embraced the substance of Gesenius's
great work upon the same subject, but which was not merely
a translation, and did not follow closely the arrangement of
Gesenius, nor confine itself in all respects to his limits, has
undergone great changes in the successive editions, the last
two being considerably reduced in size, and still containing
abundant materials for the student. In the fourth edition,
be has in some degree simplified the classification of the

Digitized by


1833.] Hebrew Orammar and Manuals. 18

vowels, which always present a formidable appearance to the
learner. This change we fully approve. Indeed, we have
never been wholly reconciled to the abandonment of the old
arrangement into long and short vowels, to which were sub*
joined all the important rules concerning the exceptions.
This arrangement appears less complex to the learner, and
affords greater facility for the explanations of the teacher.
If, besides this, the rules of syllabication and of the quantity
of the vowels were combined and illustrated together, some-
thing, it seems to us, would be gained both in brevity and
clearness. Respecting the vowel changes, some rules are
demanded, and the most important genei*al rules are laid
down by Professor Stuart with sufficient distinctness. But
there are many rules of a more minute kind concerning this
subject, depending upon an induction of particulars which are
not always sufficient for demonstration, and sometimes re-
sulting merely in that short mandate of sovereignty in lan-
guage, " Sic voluit fisus.^^ After teaching as much concern-
mg orthography, as shall enable the pupil to read the words
well enough for a tolerable Christian hebraist^ grammatical
commentaries are mainly important for etymological purposes.
If Professor Stuart sometimes goes farther beyond these boun-
dorieSy than most Hebrew scholars will be disposed to follow
him, still it might seem ungrateful to complain, since in most
cases he plainly indicates where they may stop short, and
may return at their pleasure to explore the whole ground.

Professor Stuart's Chrestomathy, a title which has been
some time in use for books of this kind, consists, 1. of a selec-
tion of verbs and nouns of the various classes ; 2. of easy
sentences for beginners ; and 3. of large select portions of the
Hebrew Scriptures, in prose and poetry. Copious practical
notes are appended to these several parts, with correct and
convenient references to the grammar.

Mr. Gibbs's Lexicon was taken, in its first form, from the
German works of that distinguished oriental scholar. Profes-
sor Gesenius. The prominent changes in Gesenius's Lexi-
icon from those which preceded it, were a departure from
the etymological arrangement, and the adoption of his ver-
nacular language instead of the Latin, for giving the signifi-
cation of the Hebrew words. Former Hebrew Lexicons, at
all valuable for learning and thoroughness, were intended to
be constructed on strict principles of etymology ; compelling

Digitized by


14 Hebrew Chranmar and Manuals. [Jan.

the novitiate, most absurdly, to trace the derivatives to tbeir
primitives, without giving them a place according to their
mitial letters. And so thoroueh were the old lexicographers
in carrying out their theory of the derivation of nouns from
verbs, that in case of emergency, they would distort the sup-
posed primitive into any shade or shape of meaning, in order
to bring about their purpose ; or, in case there was no primi-
tive to be thus tortured, they would invent one, which they
pronounced to be obsolete, or adopt one that best served
their scheme, from a kindred language.

The Lexicon of Mr. Gibbs is the first Hebrew-English
Lexicon of any critical value that has appeared. The Man-
ual, whose title is given above, was preceded by a more
copious Lexicon upon the plan of Gesenius ; but the Manual
is quite sufficient for learners, and for all conHnon purposes
of the Hebrew student. The study of the Hebrew language
is much facilitated by this work ; and while the pupil is no
longer compelled to grope his way through the mazes of

Online LibraryJoseph Lyon MillerAmerican monthly review → online text (page 3 of 54)