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accident. Among these Harvard men in the Confederate service there
were no less than seventeen general officers, five of whom were major-
generals. It has long been known that more than a thousand Harvard
men served in the Union army, to which the University contributed a
great number of distinguished officers, but even Harvard men have gen-
erally been ignorant of the fact that the College also contributed many

1 Part of an address delivered at the dedication of the Gilman Memorial, April 16,
1916, in the Unitarian Chnroh, Arohdale Street, Charleston, S.C.



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1916.] Samuel Gilman, Author of 'Fair Harvard:' 611

more general officers to the Confederate army than any other college or
aniversity in the country, excepting West Point only. In addition to
these soldiers there were a considerable number of Harvard graduates in
the civil government of the Confederacy, including one of the senators
from South Carolina.

There must evidently have been many students from the South at the
University during the half-century preceding the Civil War, and, as was
to be expected, they were the natural leaders of their communities. South
Carolina was probably represented more largely than any other State
south of Virginia, and Charleston more largely than any other commun-
ity in South Carolina. How appropriate it. is, therefore, for Harvard
University to join this day in the dedication of this memorial in Charles-
ton to Dr. Samuel Gilman, a memorial to which hundreds of Harvard
men have gladly contributed.

It was not, however, the mercantile relations with Charleston which
brought hither the New England youth whom we commemorate today.
He was drawn by another and holier call than that of trade or politics.
It was an altogether natural and fitting thing that this church should turn
to Cambridge for a preacher of liberal religion. The liberal tradition at
Harvard was one of the gifts bestowed upon it in its cradle by the foun-
ders of the colony of Massachusetts Bay, so many of whom had been
nourished on the strong meat of independent thought by those teachers
who had made famous the English Cambridge of the Puritan age. To
that tradition the little New England college had remained steadfast
throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, and now, at the beginning of the
19th century, it stood upon the threshold of that period of florescence
which enabled it to make so notable a contribution to what, half in play,
half in pride, we call " The New England Renaissance."

Samuel Gilman owed much to HaiTard College. In his scholarship, his
love of letters, his high-minded loyalty, and his spirituality he was typical
of the era and environment in which he was reared. It was a much sim-
pler society than that of today, provincial in some of its aspects, but its
leaders were well endowed intellectually, familiar with the best of litera-
ture, generous in idealism.

Samuel Gilman was born in Gloucester, on Feb. 16, 1791, the son of
Frederick Gilman, of Exeter, N.H., and Abigail Hillier Somes, of
Gloucester. His father had been a prosperous merchant who had suf-
fered severe losses by the capture of a number of his vessels by the French
in 1798, and who had died very soon after. About 1800 SamueFs mother
removed from Gloucester to Salem. Hence, when he entered College in
the fall of 1807, he was recorded on the books as from Salem. He grad-
uated with the Class of 1811.



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612 Samuel GUman^ Author of ^^ Fair Harmrd^ [June,

Fortunately for us Dr. Gilman's daughter, Mrs. F. J. Lippitt, of Wash-
ington, in the last decade of the 19th century gave to the College Library
a number of her father's letters and other manuscripts which are now
preserved in the arcliives of the Class of 1811. Two tidbits in this treas-
ure-trove are fragments of undergraduate doggerel, one about the Hasty
Pudding Club, of which he was a member; the other describing several
members of Harvard's " best beloved class," who, in the verse, are served
with varieties of food appropriate to their characters. It makes the dis-
tinguished orator and statesman, the Hon. Edward Everett, more human
to hear his classmates call him ^^ Ned," and truly delightful is this refer-
ence to the man whom the world knows as the Rev. Nathaniel Langdon
Frothingham, D.D., a notable but somewhat cold and austere divine, min-
ister for many years of the First Church in Boston : —

'* To Frothingham Tenison we all wisht to paw
Since Natty himself is dear to the claaa.'*

Gilman's poetical gift was recognized by his classmates, who made him
Class Poet, and in 1815, only four years after graduation, he was the
poet at the meeting of Phi Beta Kappa. He had already acquired some-
thing of a reputation for verse. In January, 1812, he had written a la-
ment, in a somewhat stilted, 18th-century style, for a disastrous confla-
gration in Bichmond at which there had been distressing loss of life. In
1815 he was engaged in translating Florian's '* Galatea." In 1817 an un-
signed translation in verse from Boileau by him appeared in the North
American Meview. To his own verse might fairly be applied the criticism
which he made of the poetry of another Harvard graduate living in
Charleston — that his early verse was written under the influence of Pope
and his later verse under the influence of Moore. It is interesting to note
that the music with which ^' Fair Harvard " has always been associated
was originally the setting for Moore's song, '^ Believe me, if all those en-
dearing young charms."

For a few months after graduation Oilman was in some mercantile
employment in Boston, for he writes of himself as '' a counter-jumper by
day and a gentleman by night," but by November, 1811, he had returned
to the University, and was registered as a resident graduate, for so divin-
ity students were called before the Divinity School was set off from the
College as a distinct professional school in 1816. In his year as a resident
graduate Oilman studied under Henry Ware, Jr., whose appointment in
1808 as Hollis Professor of Divinity had helped to precipitate the con-
troversy between the Calvinistic and liberal wings of New England Con-
gregationalism. Though not yet twenty-one. Oilman was already engaged
to Miss Caroline Howard, three years his junior. She had ahready, at the
age of sixteen, written a poem entitled *' Jephtha's Bash Vow," followed



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1916,] Samuel Gilman, Author of^'Fair Harvard.'' 618

by another on ^^ Jairus' Daughter," printed in the North American Re-
view, Throughout life she knew and loved good literature, and was her-
self a writer of reputation. The story of their first meeting is a pretty
bit of romance. She had gone to Cambridge for some social event at
which he was present. In a game of forfeits he found himself called
upon to recite a bit of poetry and gave the opening lines of " Jephthah's
Bash Vow," not knowing that the authoress stood before him. This was
the beginning of his courtship. She sailed from Boston on October 27,
1811, for Savannah, to spend the winter, and among his papers are
twenty-five letters written to her during his year as a resident graduate.
They give a vivid idea of the rather sentimental and dreamy young man,
deeply in love with a girl of exceptional capacity, as well as of the life of
Cambridge at that period. His letters deal with his studies, his social life,
and the literary gossip of the time.

The meagreness of the theological training of the period is also shown
in these letters. Oilman studied Hebrew, the Greek Testament, ethics
and philosophy, and sermon writing for a few months, and got all the
College had to give him in the way of professional training. At the end
of the year he turned to teaching for a while ; for two or three years at
a school in Boston, then from 1817 to 1819 as tutor in mathematics at
Harvard. Hb heart, however, was set on the ministry, as is evident from
an episode amysingly recounted in a letter which he wrote to Miss How-
ard on Feb. 23, 1817. " I have preached today again at Mr. Thacher*s
[the Octagon meeting-house in Church Green, Boston]. Dr. Ware who
engaged to supply them during his absence at 10 DoUs. per Sabbath, en-
gaged me last Sunday and this. Last Sunday I arrived into town too late
for a morning service and the people went to other meetings. I have had
a few jokes from the President [Kirkland] about my dreams and visions
while the good people of Church Green were waiting very patiently for
the bread of life. ..."

Early in 1819 he went South to preach as a candidate in the Second
Independent Church at Charleston. He spent a considerable period here,
experienced a severe attack of yellow fever, and was invited to settle as
minister of the church. He returned to New England, was married on
Oct. 14, 1819, and soon afterwards journeyed overland again to this city,
a journey of eleven days. On Dec. 1 of that year he was ordained minister
of this church. The sermon was preached by the Rev. Joseph Tucker-
man, D.D., of Cbarlestown. Gihnan's classmate, the Rev. Jared Sparks,
later President of Harvard and a distinguished historian, also had part
in the service, having been himself but a few months before ordained
minister of the Independent Church of Baltimore, on which occasion
Channing had preached his famous '^ Baltimore Sermon."



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614 Samuel GUman^ Author of^Fair Harvard" [Jane,

It is not easy to make any adequate report of Dr. Oilman's services to
the city of Chiurleston during the nearly forty years of his pastorate. The
quiet life of a studious minister devoted to his pastoral work, while it
may be of the highest value to the community, ofiEers little material in
tlie way of stirring incident or romantic episode for the biographer. Dr.
Gilman's labors were not confined to the limits of his parish. He was
deeply loved and honored by his parishioners. His mother, then visiting
Charleston, could write to his sister on April 10, 1826, *' . • . How often
do I wish you were seated on one of the . . . benches listening to the
good advice given in the mildest possible manner by your dear brother.
. . . His Parrish almost adore him. Many, veiy many, that is averse to
his Doctrine say he is a good man." The truth is that outside his parish
his pure and noble character made him universally respected. His read-
ing was wide and various and his own literary activities also continued.
Oil June 1, 1820, be spent '* six hours writing hymns for the New York
collection," in July '^ six hours and more translating hymns from the Ger-
man." In 1822 and 1823 he was writing articles for denominational
and literary periodicals. In March, 1824, he received the first number
of the Christian Examiner^ a periodical to which he later frequently
contributed and which ran through most of the 19th century, dear to the
hearts of New England Unitarians. The same month he began an article
on ^' New England Singing Schools " which he finished .in May, 1824,
and soon after published anonymously under the title '' The Village
Clioir." It is a curious and interesting picture of New England of about
1800 and was undoubtedly based upon his experience at Atkinson, N.H.
It was highly praised by James Russell Lowell, and may be read today,
in Gilman's collected papers entitled ContrUnitions to Literature, with
much interest by those curious as to the customs of New England a cen-
tury ago. Toward the end of his life he was doubtless the foremost liter-
ary figure in the city, with the possible exception of his gifted wife, who
was (even more widely known for her writings than he was for his. It
was not merely that they preserved the studious habits and love of
literature of their youth : they were also a centre of influence for the
cultivation of the Humanities. His literary ability was drawn upon for
special sermons, for prefaces, memoirs, book reviews, essays before the
Charleston Club ; and for occasional poems, such as an ode for the New
England Society at Charleston ; an ode on the death of John C. Calhoun,
written at the request of the Faculty of Columbian College, and sung at
Calhoun's obsequies in Columbia ; and a song for the Washington Light
Infantry at Charleston of which he was chaplain for sixteen years.

Gilman returned to New England every two or three years for his vaca-
tions, and these journeys bore considerable literary fruit for himself and



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1916.] Samuel Oilman, Author of ''Fair Harvard:' 615

his wife. The story of how he revisited Salem in the Tain hope of seeing
Nathaniel Hawthorne is reprinted in his Contrilmtions to Literature.
The most famous of all his writings was produced on one of these jour-
neys, when in 1836, in the course of his Northern visit, he wrote the ode
which we know as " Fair Harvard " for the 200th anniversary of the found-
ing of the College, held on Sept. 8, of that year. The poem was, it is said,
written at short notice in answer to a request for a song appropriate to the
coming anniversary, while Mr. and Mrs. Gilman were guests of Judge
Fay, who had married a sister of Mrs. Gilman. Mrs. Gilman that sum-
mer was wilting a series of letters, presumably for publication in a
Cliarleston paper, describing their journey north from Old Point Comfort
to Washington, Baltimore, New York, Niagara, and down through New
England. Tbese ^' Notes of a Northern Excursion," published later under
the title '* Poetry of Traveling," give an entertaining picture of the sea-
board States at a period when one traveled from Schenectady to Utica
by canal boat and could describe Canandaigua, New York, as '^ a western
town." But for us the most interesting of all Mrs. Gilman's letters is that
containing her description of the 200th anniversary of Harvard College,
and of the first singing of *' Fair Harvard." The letter was evidently
wi'itten from Fay house, for she writes that '^ the noble elm of Washing-
ton, the tree beneath which his tent was pitched in the Revolutionary
War, (sic /) is waving quietly in the breeze not far from my window."
The exercises were held in the First Parish Church, according to the
custom which prevailed until Sanders Theatre was built after the Civil
War. Mrs. Gilman laments the disappearance of '^ the old Puritan meet-
ing-house " which she had known in her girlhood, and which three years
before had given place to the '^elegant and classical structure " which
still faces the College gates. The exercises themselves were very simple,
consisting of an invocation by the Rev. Ezra Ripley, of Concord » of the
Class of 1776, then more than ninety years old ; an Ode — " Fair Har-
vard " — sung by a chorus ; a Discourse by President Quincy, review-
ing the early history of the College ; a prayer by the Rev. Jonathan Ho-
mer, of the Class of 1777 ; the doxology, and a benediction. President
Humphrey, of Amherst, was apparently the only representative from
another college. At the alumni gathering in the afternoon the oldest class
represented was that of 1774, though a member of the Class of 1759
was still living. It is interesting to us to note that a young man who was
present that day as a member of tlie Junior class in College, who heard
Samuel Gilman's Ode sung for the first time, died only three months ago,
the oldest living gpraduate, James Lloyd Wellington, '38.

Mrs. Gilman describes the occasion with a just pride in her husband's
part in it, but neither of them can have guessed its full significance, nor



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616 Samuel GUman^ Author of^^Fair Harvard'^ [Jane,

have realized that this Ode, written ahnost by chance, would prove his
strongest claim on the remembrance and affection of Harvard men for
decades to come. Harvard has grown mightily from the little college of
that day, and has become more rich and powerful than Samuel Gilman
could ever have dreamed for her, but not one of her thousands of sons
has gone forth since that September day in 1836 unfamiliar with Gil-
man's Ode. It is the noblest college song yet written in America, a
hynm in spirit if not in form, stately, dignified, suited to the '^ jubilee "
and the *' festival-rites " for which it was written, but touched with a
warmth of emotion which makes it an uplifting conclusion for every
Harvard festival. That Harvard was not unappreciative of Samuel Gil-
man's literary achievements, as well as of his honorable and useful life,
is shown by the bestowal upon him of the degree of Doctor of Divinity
the next year (1837), when he was forty-six years old.

In 1852 the reconstruction of the church on Archdale Street wais be-
gun. Dr. Gilman preached the last sermon in the structure, which had
come down from Revolutionary days, from the text, ^^ Old things are
passed away." The beautiful new edifice, which still retains the outer
walls of the earlier structure, with a new interior, was a great joy to
him, the crown and glory of his ministry. It was not completed till 1854
and he lived to preach in it less than four years, for his death occurred
quite unexpectedly on Feb. 9, 1858, at Kingston, Mass., where he and
Mrs. Gilman had gone to visit one of their daughters, the wife of the
Rev. C. J. Bowen, then settled there. In death his mind returned to his
people in Chai*leston, and almost his last words were a message which he
dictated to his congregation : '^ Tell them that I have no other wish but
for the good of the church, whether in sickness or health, in life or
death." His funeral was held on Feb. 17, attended by such crowds that
many persons were obliged to stand outside in the street and cemetery.
His death brought widespread mourning to the city, and the Courier de-
clared that it was the most solemn funeral held in South Carolina since
that of Calhoun. He lies in the beautiful churchyard close to the south
wall of the church he loved.

Samuel Gilman was singularly guileless and childlike in character, but
with the deep wisdom which accompanies such childlikeness. He was
animated by a large faith in humanity and by deep sympathy for his
fellow men. He was broad and catholic in vision, a lover of learning and
of letters, described by one who knew him well as '^ completely and hab-
itually consecrated to the fulfilment of every duty." The remembrance
of such a life is a blessed heritage for this church and community, and
the University from which he gpraduated and the praise of which he so
sweetly sung gladly brings her tribute of love and of honor to his memory.



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1916.] From a Graduate's Window. 617



FROM A GRADUATE'S WINDOW.

<* Make the stadent, not the course, the anit of education." This is the
heart of Pros. Lowell's plans for improying college training. He wants
to see Harvard College produce educated men, not merely individuals
labeled as having passed a prescribed number of courses. This, at bottom,
is the purpose of the rules concerning the choice of electives (some in-
structors have considered the mastering of the rules as the best mental
discipline they ever had); such is the purpose of the oral examinations in
French and German (tests, by the way, remarkably illuminating to the
examiners as to the ignorance of students in many matters other than
French or German) ; such, also, the reason for the tutoiial system and
the general examinations in History, Government, and Economics, and
for the establishment of the Conmiittee on Students' Use of English. To
achieve this same happy result, of real education, Mr. Gustav PoUak
advocates, in the Nation^ a prescribed course of 120 weekly lectures, in
which students shall be told the names and the significance of great lead-
ers in all the arts and sciences.

Wholly admirable are all these plots to induce students to learn those
things which they want not to learn, perhaps because they seem to them
to serve ^' no practical purpose," but for the knowledge of which they will
be happier, at odd moments, all the rest of their lives. These plans will
all, however, prove ineffectual, unless we endeavor to carry them out on
the method suggested by Pres. Hadley. " The first thing to do to help
these boys," he said to the Yale alumni of Hartford, referring to students
who have no profession in view, ^' is to improve the quality of teaching.
We must get better men ; and to do this we must pay larger salaries."
(Think of a college President making such a remark I) '< If by teaching
fewer subjects we can so organize our work that we can pay larger sala-
ries, it will be good economy. The man counts for more than the sub-
ject." Wise words, these, and true, and if Yale should act upon them it
will be Yale, not Harvard, which turns out educated men. Our plans are
paper plans, and will never be more than dead formulae until we procure
men to vitalize them. If the course is to be no longer the final test of the
education of the student, is it not time, also, to check the tendency to
make the degree the final test of the fitness of the instructor ?

The undergraduate, dipping into the Classics, is not likely to be stimu-
lated to further study of Greek literature by an instructor who has earned
his degree of Ph.D. — and his instructorship — by three years spent in
earnestly tracking an elusive preposition. Such a man has forgotten liter-
ature, except as a vast maze in which may be traced the life-history of



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618 Medallic Harvard. [June,

the preposition. As well ask him to inspire undergraduates with the glory
of Homer as to expect the student of earthworms to interpret for would-
be artists the sublimity of nature. He is one of that vast army who, as a
humane professor recently put it, '< has reduced Sophocles to a mess of
optatives." Nor is it the Classics only which suffer from the curse of the
dehumanized Doctor of Philosophy, although they suffer most, since, in
these progressive days, they are most under the suspicion of being '^ un-
practical" There are instructors who see Chaucer primarily as a gram-
marian, and who look at composition as mere rhetoric, totally discon-
nected from life ; there are others whose interest in Gk>vemment ceases
after the year 1603 ; others to whom Economics means nothing more
than a field of philosophical speculation, where to apply theory to prac-
tice is to spoil the game.

Most Doctors of Philosophy are learned ; few are wise. And it takes
a wise man to educate the modem undergraduate. The Doctor who has
preserved his human wisdom along with his narrow scholarship is the best
of all teachers, but, for undergraduate work, it should be the wisdom, not-
ihe learning, that gets him the job. (In the graduate schools the problem
is different — but of that another time.) The boy in college, if he is eager
about anytliing, is eager to gather bits of knowledge which will be of
practical use. The really big teacher can make him eager to gather, also,
those other bits of knowledge which will make his life richer and happier
— and without them, without the amenities, no man can be caUed really
educated. A single James Russell Lowell did more to educate college
youth than all the pedantic Doctors of the last ten years will ever do.
Let us, as Pres. Hadley suggested, teach fewer subjects in the College if
we can thereby afford to get better teachers — for in the education of the
undergraduate one good teacher is worth a thousand good rules, and a
course cannot be good without a good teacher.



MEDALLIC HARVARD.

DR. MALCOLM STORER, '85.

Fob some years I have been endeavoring to get together a represen-
tative collection of the various medals connected in any way with Har-
vard University. Financial considerations prevented this collection being
made by the University library. It has accordingly been a great pleas-
ure to me to make Harvardiana a prominent feature in the great collec-
tion of Massachusetts medals, numbering now some 1800 pieces, that is
being gradually acquired by the Massachusetts Historical Society. As



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SOME HARVARD MEDALS.



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1916.] MedalKc Harvard. 619

always happens when one begins to specialize in any subject the field
rapidly broadens. When I began I supposed I might get together some
score or so of Harvard medals, but we have ah*eady 115 of them, and I
am sure the list is by no means exhausted. Let me here acknowledge the'
debt of the society to the many Harvard clubs that have either presented
us with their medals or allowed us to buy them, with the understanding
that they shall, of course, never leave our possession.



Online LibraryWilliam Richards Castle William Roscoe ThayerThe Harvard graduates' magazine → online text (page 84 of 103)