Yale's Fourth Jubilee

IN an address which President Eliot made in Cleveland, at the inauguration of President Thwing of Western Reserve University, he remarked that a college president had the privilege, generally, of seeing men and women at their best, inasmuch as men and women never appeared to better advantage than when consulting for the welfare of their children. It is true, in the main, that the communities of young men and women at our American colleges and universities represent a noble constituency of parents who are seeking the highest good of their children, and who often seek it with a devotion hardly less than that of Scottish parents. It is true also that the equally noble and inspiring sentiment of affectionate gratitude on the part of the children for the blessings bestowed upon them by the fathers is nowhere seen in such intensity and collective force as in our college and university communities. In these communities may be found, if anywhere, and more than anywhere else, that tenderness of feeling toward the more immediate family past which so readily broadens out into the historic consciousness of the cultured ; into gratitude for those toilsome achievements of the race which we of the present day are enjoying as a heritage; and into an admiration for the monumenta virum priorum which is the surest preventive of fanaticism and bigotry, as well as a solace and even an incentive in the struggle for well-being which awaits most men and women in America.

If the parent who consults carefully for the welfare of his child, or the child who is mindful of the devoted services of his parent, stirs our admiration and wins our regard, how much more an infant colony which, thoroughly conscious of all its indebtedness to past generations of cultured men and women, even though cast out from their culture, as it were, and disinherited, sets apart from its material poverty that which shall, with the blessing and the increase of God, insure to its coming generations the most precious of the spiritual inheritances of society, — religion and letters! Nothing is more impressive in the founders of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton than their consciousness of the wealth of the past, the poverty of the present, and the boundless possibilities of the future. Long before Ezra Stiles prophesied “ a Runnymede in America,” and even while the expenses and losses of French and Indian wars were draining the feeble resources of the colony of Connecticut, its far - sighted Congregational ministers saw visions of the coming Empire of the West, and determined, “ as if under obligation to society rather than to the church,” that the break which the Puritans had made with the Old World should not impair the tradition of true religion and good literature to the New World of their children and children’s children.

The apparatus which they devised to maintain the tradition so precious in their eyes was at first, and for many years, pathetically simple, — a country parsonage, a country parson, and a small collection of books. But it did essentially for the young colonists who put themselves under its influence what the Cambridges of England and America to-day can only do more liberally and delightfully for the young men who throng their richer privileges : it brought them into touch with the accumulated wisdom of the human race under the guidance of an inspired teacher. What more can the libraries, museums, chapels, lecture halls, laboratories, dormitories, and faculties of our great universities do now ? And the humble apparatus of these poor colonists was ennobled by the spirit with which they established it. Whereas,” they say, “ it was the glorious publick design of our now blessed Fathers, in their remove from Europe into these parts of America, both to plant, and under the divine blessing to propagate in this wilderness the blessed reformed Protestant religion in the purity of its order and worship, not only to their posterity but also to the barbarous natives, we, their unworthy posterity, lamenting our past neglects of this grand errand, and sensible of the equal obligations better to prosecute the same end, and desirous in our generation to be serviceable thereunto, — whereunto the religious and liberal education of suitable youth is under the blessing of God a chief and most profitable expedient, — therefore do in duty to God and the weal of our country undertake in the aforesaid design.”

It is amazing how short a term of years sufficed, in spite of the Wanderjahre of the “ Collegiate School,” and the anarchy and confusion which ended only with the accession of Rector Williams (1728), to give Yale College (as it was named in 1718) the atmosphere and traditions of a revered seat of learning. The first business of special importance which the energetic Rector Clap undertook (1740) was the compiling a volume of the Laws and Statutes of the College, and another volume of “ all the Customs of College which had from time to time obtained and been established by practice.” Little more than a generation had passed since the founding of the school, and less than four hundred students had been graduated from it; yet rich deposits of law and custom had been made, and a community life instituted for young men which was so charged with the influences of history and literature that Ezra Stiles, “ a boy of distinguished promise,” who entered college as a Freshman in 1742, was glad, after four years’ residence as an undergraduate, and three as a graduate student, to accept the office of tutor, “ not so much for the honor of the office, as for the advantage of a longer residence at the Seat of the Muses.”

It certainly was not the architecture of “ the neat and decent building ” then called Connecticut Hall — the only ancient college building to be left standing when these words shall be read — which won for Yale College, in 1749, from one of the most gifted men she ever graduated, the grateful appellation of “ Seat of the Muses.” It was rather what Cotton Mather called the “ collegious way of living ” with cultured rectors — all graduates of Harvard — and able tutors around a common centre consisting of the best books of the time. The forty volumes given from their scanty libraries by the founders had grown, by the “generosity or procurement ” of John Davie, of Groton, Jeremiah Hummer, of Boston, Governor Yale, Bishop Berkeley, and others, to something like thirteen hundred volumes at the time of the first Commencement held in New Haven (1718), and to about twenty - six hundred volumes when Rector Clap’s classified catalogue of the Library was published, in 1743, “ by which means it might be easily known what books were in the Library upon any particular subject, and where they might be found, with the utmost expedition.” That the Library was from the beginning regarded as the heart of the school is clear from the Battle for the Books at Saybrook, which President Clap thus describes : “ In December following ” the first Commencement at New Haven, “ the Governor and Council, at the desire of the Trustees, met at Saybrook, and gave a warrant to the Sheriff, to deliver the books to the Trustees. The house where the books were was filled and surrounded with a great number of men, who were determined to prevent the removal of the books, and therefore resisted the officer. But he, with his attendants, broke open the door, and delivered the books to the Trustees, or their order, and so they were conveyed to New Haven. But in this trouble and confusion about two hundred and fifty of the most valuable books, and sundry papers of importance were conveyed away by unknown hands, and never could be found again.” 1

The first Jubilee of this Seat of the Muses was commemorated, at the fiftieth Commencement, by “ a Latin half-century oration,” composed, at the President’s desire, by Tutor Stiles, “ though so deeply in decline as to render it doubtful whether he would be able to pronounce it. One of his fellow tutors, therefore, committed it to memory, to deliver it for him, that this era might not pass without celebration. With difficulty, however, he delivered it himself.” 2 This Oratio Semi-Sæcularis may be found among the Stiles manuscripts in the Yale Library. Its Latinity is ahvays clear, if not Ciceronian, and sometimes majestic. Its range of thought is large and generous. Modern scholarship can correct many of its historical details, but can hardly improve upon its method and spirit. The exordium breathes that sense of an indestructible continuity in the literary and religious expressions of the Old World of culture and the New World of promise which is always so impressive in those who, like the Puritans, broke boldly with what they regarded as unwholesome in the traditions of the past. To this Tutor Stiles, six years out of a college barely fifty years old, the celebration of its first Jubilee suggested the triumphs of Roman conquerors, and, above all, the Ludi Sæculares instituted by the great Augustus, “ quos cecinit quondam Horatius, urbanus, expolitus, & suavissimus ille poeta.” The Oratio Semi-Sæcularis was, then, Connecticut’s Carmen Sæculare !

The exordium is followed by an elaborate history of the accumulation and transmission of human wisdom among all civilized peoples, including the Chinese, and regret is expressed that no information conld be given about colleges before the Flood : “ De literis & literaturæ sedibus antediluvianis, nihil cognoscimus.”There are curiosities, it is true, among the historical statements of this section of the oration, one of which is corrected in a note added fifteen years later. But no correction was ever made of the statement that Hermes Trismegistus, whom some regarded as identical with Abraham, founded the college in Egypt at which Moses was educated, whose wisdom descended to the School of the Prophets, —to Samuel and Gamaliel, “tuus en præceptor, ô Paule illustris ! ” Nor was written objection ever made to the statement that Pythagoras, in his wanderings, visited the Chaldæan College at Babylon, of which Daniel was President, “ quocum diu familiarissimus vixisse dicitur.” But the history of education among the Greeks and Romans, and of European universities, of which the orator counts one hundred and twelve, is free from such curiosities, and fairly good for the time. The audience, however, was denied this long historical survey, because of the delicate health of the speaker. Twelve of the manuscript pages were omitted in the delivery, and a melancholy footnote explains the omission with “ desunt pulmones, desunt latera, vires quoque desunt.”

Passing to America, the founding of Harvard College is gratefully noted, “ quâ nunc tria domicilia clarant,” and the prayer is made, in which all Yale men could heartily join, “ diu potiatur gloriosa illa literarum sedes, divinis prolationibus tuis, ô venerande Wigglesworth ! ” Then follows a brief sketch of the history of Yale, from the granting of the first charter in 1701, by rectorships, down to the day of celebration,

— a history antedating by fourteen years the Annals of President Clap. On this beloved President, as well as on the tutors associated with him, the vials of affectionate praise are poured. Then comes, naturally, judicious praise of donors, a friendly reference to Princeton (then New Jersey) College, — “dilecta altera soror nostra, cui salutem plurimam exoptamus,” —and then the glowing peroration beginning, “ O dulces Musarum recessus! ” Here God and Nature were the themes for thought and study; here that knowledge was cultivated without which the world would have had no Lycurgus, Solon, Homer, Plato, or Demosthenes ; no Cicero, Cato, or Cæsar; no Daniel, Augustine, Doddridge, or Berkeley; and these liberal studies had no mere utilitarian aim, but trained men for the achievement of virtue and immortality. Long might such a seat of learning flourish, in friendly relations with all the academies of the world, but especially with its sisters of America, until earthly Commencements should be exchanged for heavenly, — “ ut demum inter arva floridia, inter colles Paradisi æternas, Comitia perennia & immortalia concelebremur.”

Yale’s second Jubilee was not celebrated in any way, “ that being a time,” says President Woolsey, “ in the progress of our country, at which the present and the future filled the minds of men to the exclusion of the past.” 3 This forgetfulness of the past was undoubtedly one of the results of the Revolution. The new order was not yet settled. The problems of government filled men’s minds. Jefferson’s administration was beginning, and the Jeffersonian conviction that America was a land of opportunity thrilled all hearts. The college had, on the whole, made progress during its second half century, although the promise of the early years of President Clap’s administration, under the inspiration of which Tutor Stiles wrote his Oratio Semi-Sæcularis, had been by no means fulfilled. What was deemed religious intolerance and exclusiveness on the part of the President and Fellows, together with an inflexibility of purpose and a rigor of administration which were ill suited to the troublous times and changing social order, brought attacks upon the college from without, and disorders within its walls, “ so that perhaps the college never presented a more disorganized state.” 4 During the interregnum of eleven years which followed President Clap’s retirement, in 1766, the college barely held its own ; during the disorders and dispersions of the Revolution it actually lost ground ; and so full of intense political excitement were the closing years of the eighteenth century that the mild administration of the devout and scholastic President Stiles could succeed in little more than recovering this lost ground. At the opening of the nineteenth century, the mind and heart of President Dwight were too full of great plans for the future university to dwell with any commemorative fondness on the “ dismal years ” of the second Jubilee period. And yet the light had not been darkness, as the letter of President John Adams to President Stiles, written on receipt of the degree of Doctor of Laws from Yale College in 1788, abundantly testifies : “ If this honourary degree is, as you inform me, to be considered as a token of affection and esteem, I shall certainly hold it among the most precious of things ; since nothing can be more pleasing to me, or more satisfactory to my highest ambition, than the approbation of an university, which has distinguished itself in literature, among the foremost in America, and which is the light of a Commonwealth that I esteem the purest portion of mankind.” 5 Yale’s third Jubilee was worthily celebrated on August 14, 1850, counting from the “ real foundation by donation of books.” A brief description of this celebration, which was memorable, will surely be of interest, in view of the far more elaborate programme for the impending celebration of the fourth Jubilee. The graduates assembled in the college chapel about half past nine o’clock, and elected Professor Silliman, Sr., of the class of 1796, president of the day. After proceedings usual at the annual meeting of the graduates, a procession was formed in order of collegiate age, — “the longest ever known at Yale College, and consisting probably of more than a thousand graduates, besides invited strangers,” — which proceeded to the First Church, where President Woolsey’s Historical Discourse was delivered. “ On returning to the college the company was almost immediately summoned to a collation. The tables were arranged in front of the Library ” (now the Old Library, occupied in 1843), “ under tents disposed in the form of a triclinium, with a marquee tent in the centre. Around the marquee were placed portraits of former officers and benefactors of the college, with the name of each inscribed in letters of leaves ; and above, encircling the tent, the motto of the college seal, ' Lux et Veritas.’ The tables were decorated with flowers. About one thousand persons partook of the repast. The company consisted of graduates arranged together according to classes, so that familiar faces could greet one another, of benefactors to the college, and of other invited guests, among whom were officers of a number of literary institutions.” After the collation there was speaking to such toasts and by such speakers as “ Yale College,” ex-President Day (1795) ; “ Harvard, our Elder Sister,” Professor Felton ; “ Our Alumni of the Clergy,” Dr. Leonard Bacon (1820) ; “ Our Alumni of the Bench and Bar,” Daniel Lord, Esq., of New York (1811) ; “ The Alumni of the Medical Profession,” Dr. Alexander H. Stevens, of New York (1807) ; “ Westward the Star of Empire takes its Way,” Hon. Edward Bates, of Missouri; “ The Poets of America,” Dr. Oliver W. Holmes, “ a Professor in Harvard ; ” and “ Our Alumni of the South,” William T. Gould, Esq., of Augusta, Georgia (1816). Also, a poem on Progress was read by the Rev. John Pierpont (1804) ; “ several pieces, written for the occasion,” were sung, and together with these “those four verses of the sixtyfifth Psalm in Sternhold and Hopkins’ version, which were sung at the Commencement of 1718. The company broke up about six o’clock.”

The spirit of this celebration was triumphant and hopeful, not anxious and questioning, as any celebration of the second Jubilee must necessarily have been, in spite of the opening promise of President Dwight’s administration ; and there was abundant reason for the triumphant, hopeful tone. Two long and able administrations, those of Presidents Dwight and Day, had assembled and established a body of efficient and influential professors, into whose competent hands the government of the college had finally passed; had enriched and improved the system of instruction and all the material appointments of the college, receiving therefor what, for the times, were generous funds, both from the state and from private persons ; had judiciously fostered the organization of professional and graduate schools of medicine, theology, law, and philosophy and the arts; had lifted the feeble college of Connecticut into a national university. And these two long and able administrations had been succeeded by another, that of Woolsey, the first four years of which already gave promise of that verdict which should be truthfully passed upon its completed term, — “ The progress made in the twenty-five years of his administration was far beyond all precedent in the history of the college.” 6 As this great President surveyed the past of the college, in 1850, he could not wholly banish fear : lack of endowments forbade assurance of perpetuity ; modern life and education tended to repress mdividuality and produce sameness in men ; the abundance of books prevented the free exercise of thought, so that he missed “ free and elastic minds rejoicing in their own movements, and working fearlessly for themselves in the mines of truth ; ” younger and wealthier institutions of learning were appealing to a public none too fond of the past and its traditions, with systems of education which seemed to give a more immediate hold upon the future ; and as the men whom he had revered in his youth passed away, a “ distressing want ” arose within him, “ as if men were beginning to have less of manhood and less of power than heretofore.” But hope and trust rose triumphant over fear : a tendency to improvement in manners and morals could be distinctly traced through all the years of the college, both in the student community and in society at large ; if individuality was losing intensity, the general standard of manhood was being raised; the slow and natural growth of the college in the past gave promise of natural and substantial growth in the future ; a body of college officers and graduates had been trained up to “ the permanent art of gaining public confidence ; ” there were as yet no seeds of decay in the maturing life of the college, and she supplied the wants, “ not of an age or a clique, but of human improvement, throughout time.” Therefore “ with good auguries and hopes we send her on her course through the next fifty years. May those who shall assemble here then see improvement and growth as great as we can trace since the commencement of the century. Before that time may her inelegant buildings give place to structures worthy to be the home of learning, and representing to the eye in form and material an institution calculated for all time. May her resources be adequate to every healthy enlargement. May her officers be every way abler and better than the best of their predecessors. May her students be industrious, thoughtful, earnest men, in whom solid, well-disciplined minds and characters shall be the foundation and assurance of success in life. Above and before all, may God be present to give light and to leaven with his holy influence all study and all discipline.”

The fifty years upon which President Woolsey looked out as he made this memorable prayer are now passed, and Yale’s graduates, officers, and friends will soon assemble to celebrate her fourth Jubilee. Woolsey’s prayer for the future has become a record of the past fifty years, — in every regard but one. He could not be accused of false modesty if an officer of Yale, nor of ingratitude if a graduate of Yale, nor of jealousy if an officer or graduate of some other university than Yale, who should express a doubt whether Yale’s present officers are in “ every way abler and better than the best of their predecessors.” They are not. Nor are the officers of any other university in the country. The era of large, all-round personalities in college faculties, of men who impressed themselves upon their students far more than what they taught, passed away with the advent and cult of specialization. The most influential college or university professor is now more or less of a specialist, and therefore in many ways, necessarily, a narrower man than his predecessors. But this is a natural and inevitable change, due to the increase of knowledge and the consequent changes in the methods of liberal education. And it has its advantages as well as its disadvantages. The academic student of the present day may not be so impressed and dominated by the immediate personality of his teacher as his predecessors were ; but he may be, and is more than ever before, brought by the narrower specialist who now teaches him into the immediate presence of the great personalities of the ages in all lines of human thought and achievement, — into closer touch, for example, with Plato, Aristotle, and St. Paul, whose personalities are more powerfully transmitted through the selfeffacing medium of the specialist than they were through that of the older teachers in more and larger fields. The modern university student is brought face to face rather with the very processes of history and nature than with special interpretations and attractive demonstrations of them.

But in all other regards the prayer of President Woolsey at the third Jubilee has been abundantly answered. The last fifty years have not been years of wonderful genesis, as were those of the half century before them. Only two new schools have sprung into existence during these years, — that section of the great department of philosophy and the arts known as the Sheffield Scientific School, and the School of the Fine Arts. The growth of the former has been phenomenal, and it has become a college in itself ; that of the other schools and departments at least normal and substantial. The greatest changes and improvements have come in the courses of instruction offered, and the manner of offering and conducting them. Even here progress has not been rapid, but a strong and vigorous evolution out of long-tried materials and methods of education. The administrations of Woolsey, Porter, and Dwight have all been alike in this : that changes were accepted and the proper readjustments made when they became necessary, rather than when they were novel, untried, and revolutionary. The spirit of another prayer of President Woolsey’s seems to have prevailed here, also : “ Far be from us those changes which, instead of ingrooving themselves in forms becoming obsolete, tear and snap in twain ; those which break up the flow of college history ; which sever the connection with past science and with the world of the past; which render the venerable forms of gray antiquity less venerable to the scholar ; which make a gap in the long procession of science upon which ages have looked as spectators, and inspire the student with the conceit that he is not at all a transmitter and a torchbearer, but rather one of a new race, the creators and sole possessors of knowledge.” 7

It is undoubtedly true that Yale has not borne her share in the responsibilities and necessary failures of educational experiment during the last fifty years. The Civil War, in which her sons bore their full and honorable part, and the long years of reconstruction and readjustment which followed the war, affected her life and growth very much as the Revolutionary War, and the long constructive period which followed it, had affected her during the closing years of the eighteenth century. In both cases she adjusted herself slowly to a new order of things, but in such a way that great powers were husbanded on strong foundations, and trained to face the dazzling opportunities of a new century with a courage born of conscious and undissipated strength, and under a leadership that could afford to be aggressive because preceded by one eminently conservative and generously provident.

As a result of her somewhat restrained but sturdy evolution, Yale has preserved, more than any other fully developed American university, that peculiarly American university feature, the college nucleus, — a large body of youthful undergraduates under collegiate rather than university training, but surrounded by, and projected against, all the higher and sterner activities of the professional and graduate schools. Moreover, there is ever present in this undergraduate body the historic consciousness that the professional and graduate schools are an outgrowth of the college. The college was not drawn into proximity to the schools, but the schools to the college. This gives the collegiate period dignity, and explains the larger and broader influence which it exerts as compared with the schools of Europe, the studies of which may be parallel with its own. The graduate of the German gymnasium, of the French lycée, or of the English public school goes up to the university, which is distinct from, and higher than, the school. The Yale college boy is a part — the original and essential part — of the university. The university has come to him.

Here, where the university is doing the work of a university, and assembling into convenient depositories the wisdom, experience, and high achievements of all the best of the human race, that men of the present day may mount to the shoulders, as it were, of the great men of the past, and so discover even more than they did or could about the nature of this world of God, — here, in an atmosphere of faith in the things that were and have been, as well as in the things of the future, where are perpetually unsealed “those fountains of idealism at which the human spirit has so often refreshed itself when weary of a too material age,” the brightest and most hopeful, the least hampered and afflicted quadrennium of a man’s life is spent. Here he mingles with many hundreds of his fellows who are equally blessed, in a community which, following the best Anglo-Saxon instincts, develops a rich and varied life of its own, and is encouraged rather than forbidden to do so. This community life, with its societies, its literary organs, its sports and competitive contests of every kind, its clubs and cliques, or its great mass enthusiasms, where, as is usually the case, democracy is a cult, — this life is lived in an atmosphere of letters, arts, and sciences.

The path of duty leads among letters, arts, and sciences, and to this path the Yale undergraduate is held by requirements of attendance on religious and literary exercises, — religious, because religion has the grandest of literatures. In his Freshman year he attends recitations in subjects required of his whole class ; in his Sophomore year he attends recitation sand lectures —recitations predominating — in subjects among which the class has had a limited and carefully guarded election; in his Junior and Senior years he attends lectures and recitations — lectures predominating — in subjects among which the classes have had a practically unlimited but carefully guarded election. But whether recitation or lecture, whether the instruction given is collegiate or university in its method, — and it becomes gradually, though never exclusively, the latter, — he is required to be in attendance, and the margin of irregularity is small; many think too small. Every Yale undergraduate is thus required, all through his collegiate years, though less and less as he grows mature, to do many things with many others, as others do them, and for the common good. This is an invaluable experience, and one for the lack of which no amount of specialization during these particular years could compensate. It does not block the way nor blunt the impulse to specialization; it rather lays that sure foundation without which specialization is apt to become erratic; and it trains men up for good citizenship in a society where many things must be done with many men, as the many do them, and for the common good.

The path of pleasure for the member of such a collegiate community — a college which is the heart and life of a great university — leads among ideal delights ; where more ideal? The literary, athletic, philanthropic, social, and religious activities into which Yale undergraduate life so exuberantly flowers are all lifted to a high plane of interest, because they are the avocations of a compactly organized body of youth whose high vocation is the pursuit of letters, arts, and sciences. The vocation gives the avocations dignity. If avocations become vocation, how great is that perversion! And yet, in our impatience at the apparent ignorance of relative values which is often shown by our great undergraduate communities, we should do well to remember that the pleasures to which they invite themselves, and from the enjoyment of which that degree of self-government to which they are entitled as Anglo-Saxons prevents their exclusion, are noble and, in the main, salutary pleasures. The pleasures to which the college communities of earlier days were addicted, except as their vocation was their pleasure, were surely far less to be condoned, not to say encouraged. We should also do well to remember that most of our great undergraduate communities not only reflect the tastes and desires and ideals of the country at large, but are peculiarly sensitive to the approval or disapproval which the country at large may give to their relative estimates of duty and pleasure, of vocation and avocations. Herein lies much hope. For since, generally speaking, the best of our youth go up to our great national universities ; and since it is unquestionably true that nowhere in the world are more and stronger influences for good focused upon young men and women than at these universities, — the storehouses and treasuries of the race ; and since, still further, we can trace, as President Woolsey did fifty years ago, a steady improvement in the manners and morals of our student bodies, then it must follow that both country and universities are coöperating in the evolution of higher and higher types of manhood and womanhood.

The path of duty being required at Yale, and the path of pleasure, so far as it is not the path of duty, being elective, there results a peculiar and at first thought incomprehensible attitude on the part of the undergraduate body toward duties which less favored mortals, and maturer mortals who have been similarly favored, regard as privileges. It is an attitude not of hostility, but of opposition, at least on the principle of “ He that is not with me is against me.” With the Faculty in their prescription of certain duties in the domain of letters, arts, and sciences the undergraduate body at Yale apparently is not, and therefore apparently against them. Apparently only, in both cases. It is in part a traditional attitude from a time when the educational duties which the Faculty imposed were not, in fact, educational privileges, especially when compared with greater privileges created and offered by the student body itself, in that marvelous play between man and man which still counts with the majority of college graduates for the best which college life affords. It is in part, also, a natural inheritance. It is ingrained in the Anglo-Saxon to resist all unjust authority, and to be jealous even of the just authority which he really respects. His attitude of opposition and jealousy keeps the authority just, and therefore his respect for it alive and strong. He would not take himself out from under it, so long as he respects it, if he could; but he feels that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty always and everywhere, and he is therefore not too much inclined to coöperate with authority. He is lawabiding, but not law - helping. So the Yale undergraduate really respects the requirements of his college course. He would not exchange them for the greater freedom in election of studies and attendance which prevails elsewhere. He elected at the start to put himself under them, and though they slay him, yet will he respect them, in spite of all his criticism of them and grumbling about them. Strict and stern officers, from Clearchus down, have had soldiers who disliked them in the piping time of peace, but loved them in the day of battle. The Yale undergraduate knows in his heart of hearts that, as a graduate, in the day of battle, he will love the authority which he now professes to dislike, because it insisted on the regular performance of many duties, some of which were uncongenial ; because it broadened him by not allowing him always and everywhere to follow his bent; because it had no milk for babes ; because it made a soldier of him.

But besides this collective Yale ideal, which often strikes the superficial observer as Philistinism, there are the various ideals of the various specialists, even among the undergraduates. And above and around the undergraduate body is the smaller but ever influential body of those who, having perhaps achieved the collective Yale ideal, are now achieving their individual ideals, or winning professional standing, or pressing on to the border regions of human knowledge, ambitious to enlarge or improve the domain. The professional and graduate schools, by the intensity of their specialization, exercise upon the undergraduate body an influence which discourages random, scattering work ; the undergraduate body, in its turn, helps to keep alive in the specializing graduate student that idealism which rightly and fortunately characterized his undergraduate life, and which gives him increasing reason, as the years pass, to look back with the fondest affection to the golden quadrennium of his college years, and the Alma Mater who made them what they were.

As the Corporation, Faculty, undergraduates, and graduates of Yale look off upon the years to elapse before her fifth Jubilee, they have every reason for confidence that those years will see greater material and spiritual enlargement than has marked any half century of her existence. They may reasonably expect that her professional and graduate schools will increase in power and usefulness beyond their present dreams. And they should also pray that no upreaching of the great secondary schools, and no downreaching of the great professional schools, be allowed to eliminate entirely or much curtail those four years of undergraduate life spent in the pursuit of ideal aims, under collegiate restraints rather than full university freedom, in an ideal atmosphere of religion and good literature, the product of which is rather good citizens than specialists, men who treat life “ as a measure to be filled rather than as a cup to be drained.”

Bernadotte Perrin.

  1. Annals of Yale College, pp. 28 f.
  2. Holmes’ Life of Ezra Stiles, p. 23.
  3. Historical Discourse, 1850, p. 4.
  4. Woolsey, Historical Discourse, 1850, p. 29.
  5. Holmes’ Life of Ezra Stiles, p. 304.
  6. Dexter, Sketch of the History of Yale University, p. 65.
  7. Historical Discourse, 1850, p. 74.