Chapter Ten - From Conway to Conrad
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JOHN McCLINTOCK meant to vote for Holdich for President in 1848. He was persuaded at the last minute to switch to Durbin's candidate, Peck—a younger man, with a cheerful vitality and large heart, one who had spoken out against slavery at the famous General Conference of 1844.1 It was a decision he soon regretted.2 Peck was from upper New York State, where he had grown up as "a jolly buoyant youngster," the youngest of ten. Now, at thirty-seven, he was a tall, massive figure, a florid face under a high bald dome, brown hair and whiskers hiding his ears, a mild gray eye, a warm and genial spirit. Allen remembered him as "a man of commanding presence" and good voice. "But he had not received a collegiate education and his want of acquaintance with what may be called the unwritten law of colleges subjected him to numerous embarrassments."3 Peck himself in his first report mentions "the embarrassments of untried and oppressive responsibilities," and his gratitude to his faculty in easing them.4 In the four years of his administration faculty initiative prevailed. In finance he was untidy and, though he visited churches and camp meetings, he had no fund-raising magic at a time when magic, surely, was needed. His experience as an administrator had been as principal of two New York academies, and the students sensed in his manner a willingness to regard them as children.5

From the first, too, everyone saw Peck in contrast to Emory, that dedicated spirit, beloved and admired, by the stu-



dents most of all.6 Peck's favorite phrase, "high moral tone," was ridiculed. Young hioncure Conway, angered at having his much older "chum," Henry Gere Smith, summoned before the faculty for drinking and card-playing, dashed off the letter which caused the President's detention in an asylum for the insane—Dickinson College's most renowned student prank. Peck was due to make his initial appearance before the Baltimore Annual Conference, meeting at Staunton, Virginia, March 7, 1849. This was home country to the boy, who was also well equipped to write a mature and urgent letter to the superintendent of the asylum there: a deranged relative had escaped from his attendants and would arrive by the cars at Staunton. Could Dr. Stribling meet him at the station and detain him? A physical description was given, together with the fact that the patient, as soon as approached, would announce himself as "Jesse T. Peck, D.D., President of Dickinson College." The ruse succeeded, much to the amusement of Conference and College.7

Inevitably, there was more trouble. The students drowned Peck's voice in chapel by scraping their feet, and "coughed him out" in class. In September the faculty tightened the rules—minus marks for bad behavior could cut down academic standing.8 Peck himself was strongly inclined to be lenient. "No tender heart," it was said, "beat more keenly in sympathy with the student than his."9 He would much prefer simply to read a formal statement in chapel, deploring the fault, as in his Reprimand to Seniors for Burial of Butler:

. . . But the formal organization of a class or a number of students for such a purpose to be executed in the dead of night—accompanied by procession, torch lights, addresses &c. is in a high degree disorderly. It has led as you see, however much you may regret it and however carefully you may guard against it directly to rude & boisterous hallooing, the firing of pistols, ringing of the bell, and thus disturbing families, exciting public resentment and bringing odium upon the college.10

Peck even tried the effect of ironic humor in a case of Rolling the cannon ball Down West College hall.11



Yet in vain. Always there was trouble. In December, 1849, it was the famous nocturnal "Oyster Hunt" among the freight cars standing on the High Street tracks by the College. The President, aware that students were searching the cars for a rumored barrel of the delicacy, was lured into one by voices which were actually under, rather than in it. The door slid to and was fastened, while ready hands rolled the car away to a more remote and darker spot.12 In January, 185 ), a student "shot the old Doctor's dog," and that was probably when he demanded the public surrender of all firearms. They all came laden into chapel and dumped tongs, pokers and shovels from every stove on campus at his feet. Mrs. Peck was suspected of spying, and washbasins were emptied from high windows upon her.13

Every spring, of course, brought its own rash of disorder. In 1850, it was girls in East, with Peck himself dragging one out from under the bed; Quarles was in deep trouble again, not to mention "Irregular Sophomore" W. H. Backhouse (the young secretary of the faculty amusing himself by spelling the name phonetically here and there among its numerous appearances, "Bacchus"). In 1851, it was a full-scale "rebellion" of the Sophomore and Junior Classes—the most dreaded of all breaches of discipline. They had attended the funeral, at the Catholic Church, of Jacob Faust, a popular Carlisle storekeeper, after asking, and being refused, permission to do so. In a final impasse, twenty-three Juniors rejected the demand that they apologize, signing a pledge that "the fate of one . . . be the fate of all." Suspension or dismissal was voted upon them all, and all were adamant. It just so happened that on April 14, in the midst of wild excitement at the College, James Buchanan, President Polk's Secretary of State and now a leading candidate for the presidential nomination in 1852, was stopping over at Major Patton's hotel, and someone thought to ask this alumnus, adept at diplomatic compromise, to mediate. Buchanan wrote a statement for the students in which their feelings were vindicated, while denying any attempt to usurp the faculty right to govern. A catastrophe was averted.14

Yet when the trustees met in July, Peck announced his intention to retire at the end of one more year, "determined



to . . . seek rest from cares and labors to which I feel myself poorly adapted." No rest was given him during that year. Persecution continued in one form or another up to May, 1852, when the students set fire to "the privy connected with the President's dwelling," even as the President was composing his swansong commencement address, later to be published as God in Education.15

As for Peck's performance in class, we have only a Junior's notes outlining his course in Moral Science, eloquently subscribed at the end, "A bore is finished. C. S. Pennewill, December 5th, 1849." Yet some students in an act of tardy appreciation sent to Peck's final trustee meeting a petition that he remain. The Board voted that he be given a copy of it. But his successor, elected at a special midwinter meeting, was ready to take over.

Dr. Charles Collins had had fourteen years' experience as President, Treasurer and Professor of Natural Science at Emory and Henry College in Virginia. Here again was a native of the state of Maine, a small figure in ministerial black, white wing collar, stock and tie, a tight, firm mouth, dark brown hair and brown eyes behind octagonal gold spectacles. He had gone from Maine Wesleyan Seminary to Wesleyan University, graduating there in 1837. Now thirty-nine years of age, "Old Specs" would be eight years at Dickinson, leaving in 1860 for a better livelihood as president and proprietor of a young ladies' academy in Tennessee. He came with no such accolade as earlier presidents had received, and he inherited all the difficulties of his predecessor.16 The Board did not accord him the distinction of printing his carefully prepared inaugural address.17 When an outbreak of smallpox occurred a few months later a writer in the Carlisle Herald blamed Collins—surely an extreme example of implied presidential culpability.18 Mischief was still afoot by niaht and day, but there were no insane asylum or boxcar incidents with Collins. A steadier and more purposeful hand had come in. Buildings and equipment were improved, the library fee was applied to the purchase of books, prize medals were introduced for oratory and composition.19 The student body, which had been declining under Peck, rose again to an average of about 140 for the College, 65 for the Grammar School. The



curriculum was strengthened slightly—as much as could be in the face of financial problems on the one hand, student unrest on the other.

With Peck, two young adjunct professors had been added. The Rev. Otis Henry Tiffany of the Class of 1844 was rosy-cheeked, portly and elegant, a growth of beard just where it would conceal his double chin, an epicure famous for his skill in dressing a salad.20 Mathematics was his province, but he took Latin classes also.21 James William Marshall, just graduated in 1848, would be promoted to Professor of Latin and Greek two years later. Marshall long served as secretary of the faculty and took other administrative duties also in his fifteen years at the College, going on into the consular service, the Post Office Department and a year as Postmaster General under Grant.

The departure of Allen and Baird and the death of Judge Reed in 1850 took away the last of the Durbin faculty. Natural science went to the Rev. Erastus Wentworth, who had taught at both of Peck's academies and had been an 1837 classmate of Collins at Wesleyan. His flair and originality made him a popular teacher. He would leave in 1854 for the mission field in China, and would be known in later life as an author and editor. Also under Peck, in 185O, Herman Merrills Johnson came in as Professor of English Literature. He was a New Yorker who had been a pupil at Cazenovia with Peck, and had gone on from Wesleyan's Class of 1839 to informally scheduled post-graduate work in languages. He had been teaching Latin and Greek at Ohio Wesleyan since 1844, and came to Dickinson as distinctly a unique personality—a thin, slight figure, a thin, deeply-lined, Lincolnesque face with dark hair and brows, deep-set eyes, a mouth lined to humor or sarcasm.22 Here was a scholar-teacher with a working knowledge of Greek, both ancient and modern Hebrew; Anglo-Saxon; Gaelic; Arabic; Syriaca Methodist minister who could expound the doctrines of Buddhism with admiration, had numerous articles and one book to his credit, owned a large private library, and regarded its library as the heart of any college.23 He shared his delight in English literature with a lively family, including a daughter who would become a successful novelist.24 A good deal of business sense came along with all this, and we find Johnson handling sales of books and station-



ery to the students and investing his savings meticulously.25 Charles Francis Himes, a student in his day, thought him "unsurpassed as a suggestive and stimulating teacher," working from broad knowledge and less tied to textbook assignments than any other.26 Surprisingly, in spite of this competence and his sympathy with the new fraternity movement, Johnson was unpopular with most of the students.27

Languages were a basic issue in the liberalization of the curriculum in American colleges. Peck's first report to his trustees reveals faculty dissatisfaction with the teaching of French and German at irregular times and a special fee.28 Reform was only gradually achieved. When Charles E. Blumenthal was replaced in 1854, the new man was paid $400 in salary, plus $4 for each tuition-paying student, or about $750. The new man was Alexander Jacob Schem, who had left his native Germany and the Roman Catholic priesthood three years before, and whom Rufus Shapley, Class of 1860, remembered as a "tall, ungainly, bent, yellow-haired, dreadfully nearsighted" figure, "whose broken English was our delight, and whose French pronunciation was a thing to be shunned."29 In 1855, Collins extended the study of modern languages to all four classes, increasing the salary to $600 with a lower student charge, making a total of about $1,000.30 Schem suddenly disappeared in mid-term, February, 1860. During the night a large number of cannon balls had rolled down from the attic of East, thundering against his door. He was seen the next day on the road to Harrisburg, hatless and coatless, green umbrella under one arm and Greek lexicon under the other—later to emerge in New York, where he attained national eminence as an encyclopedist and author.31 Faced by this emergency, Collins began the practice, long continued, of having the Professor of Latin also teach French, with Greek and German somewhat less aptly combined.32

It is hard to discern, but undoubtedly there was student pressure behind this development. In 1854, the Seniors petitioned for the substitution of French for astronomy, but were denied, "inasmuch as the scheme of studies has been fixed by the Board of Trustees."33 Fifteen months later, Belles Lettres was debating the superiority of ancient literature over modern,



and deciding in favor of the modern; and in 1860, faculty granted a student group permission to organize their own class in German.34 Meanwhile, since 1858, a trustee committee set up on motion of John A. Wright and consisting of Allen, McClintock and Collins, had been preparing a report "on the adaptation of the present course to the wants of the age"—in short, a larger invasion of the old static curriculum by electives of contemporary interest. Of its deliberations, unhappily, we have no record, and its report, postponed in 1859, passed out of mind with the Civil War crisis.35

There were still pressures for Biblical study on a higher level. Peck's report of 1851 had shown the faculty's willingness to allow electives for this purpose.36 The coming of the theologically-trained Schem as "Professor of Modern Languages and Hebrew" stimulated this move toward a fuller understanding of the great religious texts. By 1860, both Dickinson and Allegheny had pre-ministerial courses—a prelude to the establishment of the first Methodist theological seminary at Drew in 1867.37 But the groping toward an educated ministry and a more intellectual religion widened a growing rift between the College and the Methodist Church of Carlisle. In 1833 the town's faithful had been worshiping in an unpretentious building set back among stables in Chapel Alley. A better home, one where College functions could appear to advantage, was clearly indicated, and in 1835 the former German Reformed Church at Pitt and High Streets was purchased for $5,000. Of this sum, which the parish could ill afford, $1,550 came as a loan from the College endowment funds, a friendly gesture from which much unfriendliness would follow, as principal and interest remained unpaid.38

The faculty, doing all it could to discourage "heat and rant" in religion, had been from the first at odds with the town congregation, where men and women sat in opposite pews and enjoyed old-fashioned noisy worship in the old-fashioned way.39 In 1844 the Church forbade Belles Lettres to decorate its building for an anniversary oratorical exhibition, and the professors, in view of other incidents of the same sort, declined to mediate.40 In 1852 there was open disucssion of forming a separate church. For over three years thereafter a congregation



of professors and students, wives and friends, met in the College chapel. The First Presbyterian Church was host to student exhibitions. In July, 1857, commencement exercises were in the courthouse, and in that same year the cornerstone of the Emory Methodist Episcopal Church was laid at the corner of West and Pomfret Streets. It would rise in elegant Victorian Gothic, designed by Thomas Balbirnie, whose work still characterizes the Franklin and Marshall campus.41 The separation would bring satisfactions, along with costs which were hard to bear and which weakened the academic program. That Emory was built on a town rather than a campus site signaled a hope of reunion, long to be cherished on both sides yet not met for many years.

In 1854, Collins had proposed building a chapel on campus between West and East, with a new dormitory to create an ensemble of "completeness and magnificence.42 He did add an observatory in the cupola of South College for William Carlile Wilson, Wentworth's successor, a Dickinson alumnus of 1850 and a layman. Wilson had studied at the research institute of Frederick Augustus Genth, the brilliant German chemist, in Philadelphia.43 The policy of seeking pastors for Emory who could help with College classes brought in Dr. Thomas Daugherty, formerly a professor of anatomy at the Baltimore Medical College.44 The wonders of water and gas mains came to Carlisle in 1855 and 1856 and were duly, if sparingly, introduced on campus.45 The buildings were painted, the presidential residence at the end of East got a new porch, and a college portrait gallery was begun, "to create a monument to the noble men whose lives and labors constitute" its history.46 All these changes were related in one way or another to a new system of college financing causing a great stir elsewhere and taken up at Dickinson just before Collins had come in.

President Peck had arrived to find the original endowment goal of $45,000 still unachieved. Through his administration and long after, each year's deficit must be met by a loan. West College needed a new roof.47 An act of legislature freeing the College of all but state taxes on real estate seems not to have improved relations with the borough, now increasingly insistent on compliance with its ordinance on sidewalks.48 It was in an atmosphere of mounting crisis that Professor Johnson brought



to the trustees at their meeting in June, 1851, the new scholarship plan. In brief, he argued:

1. Endowment should pay at least half the cost of a college education.

2. Such an endowment would never be achieved by small collections "within our patronizing territory."

3. It could be raised by the sale of scholarships in large numbers, cheap, and for a given term, i.e.,

Four years tuition, $25 

Ten years tuition, $50 

Twenty-five years tuition, $100 

These would represent "a loan without interest payable in tuition." An endowment of $100,000 from about two thousand purchasers he thought an easy minimal goal. At the very most, this would bring in two hundred college students at one time. The larger the sales, the smaller the percentage of students and the more certain that endowment income would cover the cost.49

Johnson added a characteristic suggestion of his own: that $10,000 of the capital be invested in building a superior library, the interest to be provided by an increase in the library fee to $3.

The trustees, taking a highly favorable view of all but this last provision, assigned the plan to a committee and called a halt on any further sale of transferable or perpetual scholarships.50  The plan was actively promoted for the next three years. In January, 1854, as one instance of his activity, Collins spent ten days in Baltimore, achieving sales and promises of nearly $10,000.51 By the Board meeting in July, however, when the attainment of the minimum goal of $100,000 was announced, he had a larger deficit than ever to be met; and it still remained to have the handsome scholarship certificates engraved, collect the cash, and invest it—after which "a year must transpire before it can yield a support. How to throw a bridge over this gap is a direful problem."52

Other direful problems there would be, and Dickinson, where the scholarship idea seems to have had its birth in 1825, would now share them in various ways with Allegheny, De Pauw, Jefferson, Oberlin, Princeton and other schools and colleges over a wide area. Here was the heady draft of sudden



riches. Some institutions spent the money at once without even a thought of investment. Himes may be right in saying that, with tight, conservative management, the plan had merit.53 However at Dickinson, with its large force of faculty, friends and paid agents, it was not so managed. Expenses were heavy, many certificates never paid for, and the actual receipts far below the goal figure.54 For two years there were boom times on campus, students swarming in, plans for new buildings and a rosy future.55  Then the spectre of deficit reappeared; the price of scholarships was raised; and Collins and his Board persuaded the Education Fund trustees to invest heavily in a Milwaukee land speculation at 12 percent, which soon, with the panic of 1857, defaulted on interest payments.56 By 1860 it was openly admitted that the plan had been a failure, and that annual collections in the churches, so long inadequate, must be resumed.57

The new scholarship certificates did not cover Grammar School tuition. This resulted in poorly prepared arrivals being entered as irregular students of the College instead of in the School. Parents, spurred on by this situation as well as by the hard times, began garnering in the older certificates, and with such success that by 1858 the School was operating at a loss.58 Two other schools had been regularly preparing boys for Dickinson—the Dickinson Seminary, far to the north at Williamsport, Pennsylvania; and Pennington, the older academy of the New Jersey Conference.59 Williamsport Dickinson was to become virtually an arm of the Preachers' Aid Society of the Central Pennsylvania Conference.60 Similarly, the effort of Emory and Johnson to set up a loan program for indigent students, after languishing through the years, was given financial support by the Baltimore Conference only as an agency to aid sons of ministers.61

Now at least the problem of student enlistment was solved—solved with a bang whose reverberations would still be heard years later. The scholarship system went into operation in 1854, and the class entering in the fall of that year "brought together," in the words of one of its number, the President's nephew Horatio Collins King, "as great a variety of boys and men as was ever seen outside of Castle Garden." Here were 110



Freshmen, many totally unprepared for college, many sent in a belief that the certificate covered all expenses. They came, he goes on, from as far south as Georgia, but "Maryland contributed a lively set of rollicking blades, whose fathers believed they had made a successful speculation and would have their sons educated, boarded, fed and clothed, for the paltry sum of six dollars and twenty-five cents a year."62 Some had to return at once, and the class was halved by Sophomore year. The remainder soon caught the spirit of college life, set the regulations at defiance and gave "Old Specs" many a sleepless night. "I think," as Professor Wilson acidly remarked after climbing the stairs to his recitation room and finding a calf at the desk, "your class is large enough already."63

It all belonged to a new era whose tempo was felt in all the American colleges, and would be for many years to come. Rigid discipline supporting a rigid and outmoded curriculum was creating a student world more and more apart from the faculty's. Senior William Charles Ford Reed dwelt upon the frustrations of "College Life" in a chapel speech of 1851

. . . Sports of all kinds, companions agreeable and disagreeable, disputes and reconciliations, whiskey and stolen chickens, society elections and disappointed candidates, and last, though not least, chapel speeches—all go to make up the experience of college life. A new regulation is made! And, immediately, there is a meeting of a class, motions are made and clamorously debated, a remonstrance is sent to the faculty, the Doctor meets the class in some lecture room and talks around the point a while, the class settles down like a mass of wilted cabbage-leaves, and the members find themselves, at last, just where they started.

But, notwithstanding this diversity and the excitement attending some of these circumstances, how tedious does college soon become. To go through the same round of duties one week after another, to be always busy, to be under continual restraint, to be under the necessity of rising at an hour appointed by others, to be answerable for your whereabouts even on Sunday—all this is excessively unpleasant.64

"Borous" it was, but on the other side, sports, parties, —"spreeing," "getting tight," and the fellow-feeling that went with the breaking of rules, created delight. Resistance centered upon class recitations and between-class restrictions. To shine as



an orator at society anniversary or commencement remained a treasured goal, but there was little or no other intellectual response, and the rift became so wide that a student who turned to any professor for advice or assistance might be lastingly ostracized.65 Collins, bemoaning class loyalty, seeing his charges "dragooned into submission to a tyrannical majority," tightened the rules and forbade any unauthorized meeting.66 Unauthorized meetings, wild and high, went on. It was an era of student diaries, which somehow must have been kept hidden from pervasive faculty watchfulness, for they tell all. None makes more delightful reading than that of "Rache" King over his four years. It is bright with music and song, and dreams of love in gorgeous detail, the thrill of Mattie Porter's first kiss (and a Latin blessing whispered in her ear), February and valentines both amorous and comic, taking Mattie to hear Uncle Charles lecture on "The Democratic Tendencies of Science," examinations even in such abstruse subjects as Paley's theology passed with éclat and left with a triumphant yell—"and here my eternal borosity ends." Horatio, an earnest Freshman, joins "a reading club" whose members astonish the College by "wearing the Shakespeare collar." Uncle Charles nods approval. But as a Sophomore, inevitably, the "borous" vie with the "bunkum times," with much midnight revelry, lively hours at the Lager Beer Saloon, and Dr. Collins announcing a sense of sad betrayal. There was racing through tollgates, stealing signs and nailing them on the presidential porch, tampering with "the old engine Nicholas Biddle" on the railroad tracks, organizing "the Viginti," a "Calathumpian band" to serenade selected victims, and a smaller, more temperate musical group to perform in neighboring towns.67

One sees still a pleasant personal relationship between faculty and students at parties and elsewhere, the dissidence of the young men being directed particularly against the classes they found dull, chapel exercises and the manifold rules laid down to maintain a safe and orderly routine. The College bell, the voice of that routine, suffered every imaginable interruption and abuse.68 All made common cause, for while class loyalties had formed, class rivalries had not. Hazing had not come in, though a renegade would suffer, and a "green" new arrival might be



subjected to "facultyizing," a form of mock trial in which dreadful penalties were imposed by a group of ridiculously costumed judges. As ever, a weak financial structure increased the students' sense of power. With so many on scholarships, wholesale dismissals could not be quite so ruinous, yet were no less sure to be met by student action. "Another College 'hellibeloo'," McClintock noted in his diary, February 6,1856, "some 70 or 80 students having combined to dictate to the faculty in the case of Hulsey, Hepburn and Maglaughlin who were dismissed. It is the old, ever-recurring contest, 'Who shall rule, Faculty or Students?'"69

The three students had been found guilty of tarring Professor Tiffany's blackboards. Indignation sprang from the fact that three should be made to suffer for an act in which a score or more had been happily engaged.70 Rendering blackboards useless with grease or tar, and making the classroom air unendurable by putting red pepper or asafetida on the stove were the most oft-repeated disruptive devices.71 No professor was immune from harassment, though Wilson and Johnson were favorite targets. Modern Languages fared best, though "Old Dutch" Blumenthal felt insulted in the spring of 1854 when Tucker came to class "fantastically decorated with flowers in his hair," was sent from the room and then (the testimony indicates) hurled in garbage at the professor.72 A high point in Wilson's vexations came when one of his regular classes was billed throughout the town as a public lecture on new scientific discoveries.73 Wilson accepted defeat in 1858 when all copies of an unpopular text persistently disappeared, and he quietly substituted another.74 The obsequies accorded "Scotch" Johnson's text, Asa Mahan's Intellectual Philosophy, included specially-composed pieces in prose and verse, English and Latin:

December 15, [1856], Monday,

Junior Class met in Gordon's room at 1 and made a few more arrangements—invited the Senior Class, &c. &c.... At 11 o'clock the officers elect met in Slape's room, and in a few minutes marched to South College, where we took up the bier (a white window shutter) on which in a black box lay Mahan's Intellectual Philosophy shrouded in black. We marched into Prof. Wilson's room, which was brilliantly illuminated, every gas-light going in full blow. A greater part of the

Seniors and Junior Class were present. W. J. Stevenson opened the services by an oration on the life and services of Mahan, which was very good. After this Gough read a very appropriate poem, with a number of good bits. The procession then reformed, bier supported by six pallbearers in front, Cloud and myself next, the Juniors as chief mourners, and then the Seniors, about half of them with lamps and candles, and marched with solemn tread down Main Street to the Campus gate, which entered, we proceeded towards West College up the main path, thence down the North and South path, to the S. W. corner of the campus, where were Hulsey—the sexton—standing by the open grave. The first Ode, to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne" was sung with spirit, after which I read my Sermon of fifteen minutes length during which the coffin was lowered and the earth dropped lightly in. At the conclusion, Cloud delivered an appropriate Latin Prayer, which by the by was very good indeed. We then sang the 2nd Ode, to the tune of "Masse's in the cold, cold ground," I singing the solo, and all joining in the chorus. I then pronounced a blessing and we all started toward our rooms yelling and howling most piteously. During the exercises we were of course occasionally interrupted by sobs and loud wailing. All—Seniors included, concur in saying that the exercises were splendid throughout: and especially so, as the time for preparation was so short. I was dressed in my long, patriarchal cloak, formerly father's, and a black sailor hat fixed in imitation of a priest's three-cornered affair, with a long black cape entirely concealing all my head, save the face looking quite priestly and awful solemn . . . . P.S. The Philosophy buried belonged to Prof. Johnson, who teaches it, and was stolen from him yesterday by Ali Slape, while Johnson was at church: and forsooth he missed the book, and concluded that he had mis-laid it: however it is not mis-laid, but deposited in the fit receptable for such an abominable bore, which now to think of, makes the blood run cold: but to think of as defunct, sends a thrill of pleasure to the heart. Farewell old Mahan: may you lie forever in that chilly grave, undisturbed, unchanged.75

Mahan, however, did not lie long undisturbed. A few days later, a German laborer known to history only as Fred discovered the little grave and at once notified the town authorities of an apparent infanticide. In the presence of a coroner's jury and in full expectation of culminating evidence of college-student wickedness, the ground was opened. Marshall was the only faculty member present, hesitating to summon others as he noticed a gleam in the eyes of young men around him, and



remaining to enjoy alone the denouement, with the cry of "Sold!" as the little black box was opened.76

As faculty firmness enhanced the challenge to mischief, so faculty methods of seeking evidence aggravated it. Collins was said to have trained his new telescope atop South on the window of the bell room in West, where card-playing took place, and to have used it in attempting to discover the site of a rumored student duel. The duel was a hoax, staged entirely for his benefit, and with such contagious gusto that when the town constables finally arrived, exhausted, at the scene, they were persuaded to join in the fun, bearing an ostensibly wounded combatant, smeared with chicken blood, back to his bed at the College—a unique instance of town-gown cooperation.77

Intoxication rated one hundred minus marks, and anything over a hundred brought dismissal from college. The plus and minus ratings seem to have been administered with a good deal of convenient flexibility. The accounting was announced only at year's end, then to be received by the students with mingled surprise and unconcern. "Rank injustice," Horatio King noted in his diary, July 10, 1856, "but 'let 'em rip.' "

The faculty had as yet no thought of diverting student energies into an athletic program. Of the games played the most popular was a rough-and-tumble, old-fashioned kind of football, the ball kicked only, by as many players as chose to join in, and each side working to drive it over the opposite campus wall.78 In 1838, Judge Reed had declared the sport "as valuable in a college as the black board. Collision knocks out the sparks of wit, and prepares the mind for action," but two years later Durbin had restricted all games and forbidden football altogether. It was back under Peck.79 Collins forbade it again after four players were dismissed for fighting.80 William I. Natcher, Freshman of that famous Class of 1858, seems to have been the lad who died after kicking the ball over the roof of West College—and sparked another "rebellion" in the demand for a suitable period of mourning.81

We find Charles Francis Himes on "the Ten Pin Alleys" with other students in the spring of 1853. He invested 12½¢ in a pair of sixteen-pound dumbbells, recommended by Professor Johnson "for strengthening and enlarging the chest. My chum



has a 25 pound ball," with which he exercised, tossing it up and catching it again. A student-organized "Military Department," an activity forbidden by earlier regulations, flourished in the late 1850's. The "Carlisle Junior Cadets," turning out smartly with the other town militia companies, should not be mentioned apart from their opposite number in the College, the "Schweitzer Guards," who exercised with pretzels, beer and fried oysters at Schweitzer's Lager Beer Saloon.82

As the student diaries bear witness, the boys and young men found ample time for amusement. The very rigidity of the ordained, familiar studies made them less onerous. The year's course filled forty weeks, and Seniors were allowed four weeks in which to prepare their commencement addresses (of from ten to fifteen minutes each). Collins' prizes (a stimulus, here as elsewhere, indicative of academic apathy) were attracting little competition.83 Society prize oratorical contests fared better, and one of them, in 1857, inspired the first of the burlesque programs that would live on as a college custom for many years.84 By the 1850's the rift between students and faculty had become so wide that it stood as an unwritten law that one must not, under penalty, apply to a professor "for assistance or advice in anything."85 Students had an intellectual life largely their own. The society library circulation records show independent reading. A chess club met at Mrs. Hall's boarding house.86 So also did the Shakespeare Club, a flourishing group which attracted even such bright spirits as Billy Bowdle, "the incarnation of mischief and jollity."87 A dramatic association played Shakespeare, though officially theater attendance rated ten minus marks.88 The election to honorary society membership of such authors as Melville and Hawthorne is evidence that the contemporary novel was both read and appreciated.89

The two old literary societies still dominated student life, each with its "anniversary" exhibition of oratory for College and town, its exciting elections for office, its debates (in which interest seems to have waned somewhat), and its "Court of Inquiry," that germ of self-government. Four years after Judge Reed's death the students were granted a room for a moot court, and Union Philosophical joined in meeting this need.90 Only the societies had the capital for printing a student paper,



and The Collegian of 1848-49 (almost wholly a Moncure Conway production) was sponsored by a committee of three members from each, setting the pattern for the Dickinsonian of 1872. The old hope of building society halls, such as had long existed at Princeton and for over a decade at Franklin and Marshall, was reawakened in 1857, but again in vain.91 Belles Lettres had followed the Unions' lead in organizing alumni and both were ready for a campaign.92 It might have succeeded had independent incorporations been granted, yet already that urge was being met by the new fraternity movement. The influence of the fraternity upon society life is seen at once in the new gold badges of B. L. and U. P., and in a renewed emphasis on secrecy and ritual.93

The fraternity movement had begun with Kappa Alpha at Union College in 1825. Two years later came the Yale Report, manifesto of that faculty conservatism against which students posed this new force of their own. Francis Wayland observed in 1842 that young people herded together under a distasteful regimen will form a social system of their own.94 This the fraternities did. "Among the barbarians, we are the Greeks." The Greek-letter designations might be seen as an ironic nod to the outmoded classical course. Here was brotherhood, unencumbered by external rule or duty. Faculties rose in opposition to the evil. Just as the Anti-Masonic furor was receding, they found this new web of secrecy rising in their midst. Church government had always been hostile to the rival, secret rituals. Here worldly savoir faire was substituted for spiritual grace, the polished gentleman of affairs for the exemplar of Christian piety.95 At Dickinson, some might even have seen the parallel between the chapter networks and the Methodist organization, each with its emphasis on brotherhood, loyalty and joy in life—but joy in two quite disparate patterns.

Brotherhood of this new kind first appeared at Carlisle, May 12, 1852, when Professor Johnson and three students organized the "Eclectic Society of Dickinson College," a chapter of Wesleyan's Phi Nu Theta.96 No matter that this had been founded, and remains, a society with a particular regard for scholarship. At Wesleyan both Johnson and Charles Collins had belonged to it, and to Phi Beta Kappa as well. A Dickinson



faculty meeting promptly responded to Eclectic by condemning any group "to whose meetings members of the faculty may not at all times have access." The trustees, "with closed doors," as promptly reinforced the edict by a stern mandate.97 This was one of Peck's last acts, and it remained for Collins, in the next year, to uncover and erase the chapter of Zeta Psi, exacting solemn pledges from the membership and burning all records.98

Phi Kappa Sigma followed in 1854, at first as an inner circle among members of Belles Lettres, whose hall was well adapted to secrecy. When discovered by the faculty and ordered to disband it gave, but by no means kept, its acquiescence.99 After all, in this same period some of the professors had been active in the Know-Nothing movement setting an example of undercover politics and action.100 Long before that, moreover, faculty had been conspicuous in Carlisle's flourishing Masonic lodge.10l Phi Kappa Sigma had a friend in Johnson, and it is probable that others were beginning to realize the futility of opposing this new development.102 On April 8, 1858, the supposedly nonexistent chapter rolled out to Carlisle Springs in a four-horse omnibus for a glorious banquet, with addresses, odes, toasts and intermissions for "pumping ship."103 Sigma Chi and Phi Kappa Psi came in 1859. Others followed, but the factor which made fraternities not only acceptable but necessary, their assumption of boarding and lodging functions, would come later at Dickinson than elsewhere.

The Peck regime had opened with a rule perhaps derived from the Doctor's boarding school experience. All students living in college, and all unmarried faculty, must eat in the College commons.104 The result was not only an overcrowded dining hall, but surpassed all precedent in impromptu and planned disorder. More and more students sought parental permission to eat elsewhere, and the faculty contingent finally gave up when a young adjunct professor, eyes lowered in the act of giving thanks, received a bowl of hot mashed potato full in his face.105 Student-managed boarding clubs appeared in 1856, and multiplied when the Civil War inflation made private boarding expensive.106

A high point in that year of 1856 had been the election of James Buchanan to the presidency of the United States—with a



constant whirl of torchlight processions, bonfires, and, on election night, old North College itself going up in smoke and flame.107 In the campaign, southern students had openly talked of secession if Fremont won.108 Horatio King dug back in U. P. minutes and was delighted to find that as an undergraduate the famous bachelor statesman had read "an essay on the Danger of a too frequent connection with the Fair Sex."109 Buchanan, prudent compromiser whose diplomacy had settled the student "rebellion" of 1851, would now be expected to unite the nation. Four years later, on the edge of the emerging crisis, Dr. Collins resigned, and the College also had a crucial presidential election before it. Collins, who had declined two other college presidencies, would head the State Female College near Memphis, Tennessee.110 One of his final recommendations, bluntly turned down by the trustees, was a concession to student feeling which might have made things easier for his successor. He had suggested that instead of holding prayers and recitations before breakfast (during the winter by candlelight), these begin at 8:45, and that evening prayers be omitted altogether.111 His successor must continue to deal with the situation in which, as "Rache" King had it in one of his songs,

Prayers and imprecations,
Fly to heav'n together.112

The election was hurried through with a sense of crisis and urgency. Mary Johnson, watching her father pace up and down the parlor of their rooms in West College, suddenly found the place alive with a merry, laughing crowd, come to bring him the news of his elevation.113 He did not, actually, face a rosy prospect: the floating debt was larger than ever, faculty salaries unpaid, endowment interest in arrears; and there was every reason to expect continuing "pecuniary embarrassment." At the electoral meeting, trustee the Rev. Pennell Coombe, a man given to morose extremism, had moved that Dickinson College put up its buildings for sale and remove "to some other locality."114 He may have had Williamsport in mind, or the motion may have been simply a threat to the borough, with its persistent claim on the College for sidewalks.

With the war crisis of 1861, the student body was suddenly



reduced to about half—seventy-two in College, thirty-two in Grammar School in that year. Faculty and trustees united in refusing to close the institution, though it was agreed that salaries must be paid only from revenue received. East Baltimore Conference established an annual "Day of Prayer for Colleges" (long continued through the years), and approved Johnson's suggestion of an appeal to the Pennsylvania legislature for aid, promising to match any appropriation with scholarships for "meritorious pupils of the common schools.''115 Johnson also advised, and his trustees approved, extending the scholarship certificates to Grammar School tuition.116 This would remove a long-standing complaint—though it later resulted in the closing of the School as a continuing financial loss. In Philadelphia, there was an appeal to selected donors for funds.117 The 1861 commencement must have had something of the air of closed ranks marching into dubious battle with unshaken esprit de corps. Seventeen Seniors (aggregate grades for their four years ranging from 11,549 to 7,400) made their meticulous little speeches—the "literary oration" in Greek, the salutatory in both Latin and English—all with the rounds of polite applause and the intervals of music.

Through the Civil War, Johnson had a teaching staff of four, all Dickinson graduates. Wilson, in science, was the senior. William Laws Boswell, formerly in mathematics, now taught Greek and German. The other two were new arrivals. John Keagy Stayman would have ancient and modern languages, philosophy and English literature in his repertoire during his years at the College. "Johnny" Stayman was the easy-going, jovial, ever-popular type. Let his class "raise a doleful howl" at the length of an assignment and he would shorten it. His own texts were marked with the jokes interjected every year.118 Samuel Dickinson Hillman had mathematics and astronomy—"keen and merry . . . and the best chess-player in a faculty of chess-players."119 Faculty met less often, and encountered only such minor disciplinary problems at the "tick-tacking" of a window. There were secret midnight dances with screeching fiddle and whirling forms that "made the mermaid tremble on her throne." One of these brought a lecture from President Johnson, candle in hand, "thin lips drawn tightly over his teeth in a



sort of sickly smile"—he then losing his way in the dark, as the tale goes, to be found at morning in Boswell's pantry, held at bay by the professor's big Newfoundland dog.120 But the old student-teacher impasse had melted away before the larger conflict—or had been transferred to it. Conrad and Cloud, as spies of the Confederacy, with their secret line of communication to Richmond and their plan to kidnap Lincoln and send him south along it, were only enlarging the bold spirit and major preoccupation of student life.121

In 1862, the Law Department was revived with the appointment of Judge James H. Graham, Class of 1827, as Professor. To this was added an honorary LL.D., but he seems to have taken the whole as an honorary distinction, since no law students are known to have graduated in his twenty years' tenure.122 We see Judge Graham briefly among the "wrathy" citizens when soldiers from the camps at Carlisle wrecked the office of the American Volunteer for having called Lincoln a despot.123 A more significant event of the year was Congress' passage of the Morrill Act (vetoes in 1857 by Buchanan), bringing the rise of the land-grant universities, and stirring a hope of Federal aid in the small colleges as well.

With 1863 came the war itself to Carlisle, Rebel troops pouring through, "the dirty, ragged, lousy & harelip rascals from Georgia and Virginia, " and cavalry who had "fine-cut faces & looked every inch fighting men."124 The Barracks were burned; the town was shelled on July 1 by Fitzhugh Lee; and then the tide drew backward into the holocaust at Gettysburg.

The invaders had bivouacked on campus, and we have a glimpse of President Johnson exchanging Masonic signs with their commander, and gaining a promise that no damage would be done.126 Johnson was proud of the patriotic ardor of "about twenty of our students, including young gentlemen from the states of Virginia & Maryland & Delaware" who at the first news of invasion had "rushed to arms in the common defense of their country." Governor Curtin, an alumnus of 1837, had granted at once his request for their discharge after the battle.127 Federal authorities had then taken over the College buildings for hospital and other purposes.128



In that fall of 1863, "Emory Female College" was opened, with Emory Church as its classroom building.129 Lasting only three years, it was a new, and nearer, move toward coeducation, as well as providing added income for hard-pressed faculty and some easing of the financial burden of the church.

At war's end, Johnson could announce to his trustee meeting of 1865 that the student body had returned to about three-quarters of its former figure—not counting the abnormal crowding from "the scheme of scholarships, that is, about 1854-57." Also, there were fewer of the irregular students whose presence had characterized the scholarship inundation.130 The President's report reveals a sense of a new era and new opportunities in education. He stressed again the need for a library building. He brought forward the elective principle which, a few years later, was to be given such prominence by Eliot at Harvard.

We think that the time has come for a partial reorganization of the College Course of Studies. There is a demand for something more practical, which we are not at liberty to ignore. We think the first two years of the College Course should be devoted mainly to the elements of Classical learning, & the pure Mathematics; and that after that there should be divergence, that the young man may choose those studies best adapted to qualify him for his calling.131

A first step in this broadening program, Johnson told them, should be the pre-ministerial course adopted in 1851 but not long continued; and, "not less imperative," new science offerings embracing analytical and agricultural chemistry, geology, mining, metallurgy and natural history. His recommendations were referred to a committee which included the forceful and forward-looking churchman Matthew Simpson and John A. Wright, the engineer who had served on that earlier committee to consider adaptation to "the wants of the age."132

The Board voted approval insofar as funds would allow, and agreed to publicize the "Enlarged Course of Study for the use of Agents."133 The agents were those of the new Centenary Campaign, and the most active of them was the Rev. Pennell Coombe.134 American Methodism would reach its hundredth anniversary in 1866, with the exhilarating realization that it was now the largest religious society in the land. $100,000 was the goal of the "centenary endowment of Dickinson College."



Coombe asked James Buchanan to endow a professorship and was turned down sharply.135 He found a more likely prospect in Jacob Tome of Maryland. Coombe was also quick to see that professors of high reputation were the fundraiser's best talking point, and turned a critical eye on Dickinson's little faculty—its salaries still pro-rated on receipts. Actually, in this drive small contributions counted most. Each Sunday school pupil bringing a dollar received a medal with West College shown on one side, on the other Mrs. Susanna Wesley with little John at her knee, and the legend, "Feed my lambs."136

Johnson had another proposal for expansion at that Board meeting of 1865. Mr. A. M. Trimmer stood ready to establish, at his own expense but subject to "the general authority" of the College, a school of business. The College would receive half of all proceeds in excess of regular overhead.137 Thus came into being the Dickinson Commercial College, which within two years was operating with over a hundred students and a faculty of five, including Martin Christian Herman, a young lawyer and Dickinson alumnus of 1862, later a trustee, as its Lecturer on Mercantile Law; and, as Instructor in Phonography, the Rev. William Trickett, an Englishman who would graduate with Dickinson's Class of 1868 at the age of twenty-eight, and follow with a year as Principal of the Grammar School.

The Grammar School was moved again into West, to make room in South for the Commercial College, but it was closed entirely at the end of the 1868-69 term. The extension of scholarship privileges had made it a losing proposition, and its presence in college classrooms had been as disturbing as when Emory had brought them together.138 Some professors did preparatory tutoring privately, but the School, Dickinson's link with its remotest history, remained closed until 1877.

When Professor Wilson had died, March 2, 1865, a new emphasis on science had been under discussion for some time. Wilson himself had recommended the appointment to the faculty of Charles Francis Himes of the Class of 1855, who had taught at Troy University, and taken advanced study at the University of Giessen.139 Thomas Daugherty, back in Carlisle with an eye on Emory Female College, was also a candidate for this chair, but Himes was elected.140 Thus began, in 1865,



thirty-one years of singularly dedicated service to Dickinson College by a man who might well have risen to national stature had he not identified himself so completely with the establishment of a pre-eminent scientific course on this one small campus. His teaching from the first was successful and popular, in spite of the dismally deficient laboratory in the basement of South and a laboratory fee of $25.141

"Dutchy" Himes was fully alert to the educational thinking of his day, and particularly to Herbert Spencer's on the value of scientific training, its advantages over the obsolete classical course both for practical purposes and as "mental discipline."142 He put Dickinson at the front of a modern trend, doing all in his power to maintain that position by hard work, persuasion, personal expenditure and even (alas) political maneuvering. At the Board meeting of 1866 Johnson announced good results in permitting the substitution of analytical chemistry for Greek in Junior year, or in Senior year for either Latin or Greek (with Hebrew, French and calculus as other Senior alternatives). That meeting granted Himes authorization "to solicit and receive specific donations towards the erection and furnishing a suitable building"—a goal not to be achieved for nearly twenty years. By 1867, Himes had added a course for prospective teachers, and had organized his students into "The Scientific Society," under student officers but with himself as "Director." With its seal, its motto of aspiration, "Nunc ad sidera," it stood on a par with B. L. and U. P., though more closely tied to the curriculum. It had twenty members in its first year, with Jesse Bowman Young, a war veteran and ministerial candidate, as President.143

Himes was too astute ever to permit his program in science to appear to conflict with that advance in theological training simultaneously put forward at the Board meeting of 1865. His classmate of 1855, the Rev. Shadrach Laycock Bowman, came in soon after as Professor of Biblical Languages and Literature, promoting this side with much of Himes' energy.144 Yet the newness and verve were all on the side of science, while the founding of Drew Theological Seminary would soon supply the Church's need amply well, and Bowman himself would end his teaching career at Drew. In 1868, the trustees voted to extend



"the elective system of studies" to all but the Freshman Class and to give Science the space in South from which the Commercial College was withdrawing.145

Meanwhile, the glowing prospect of the Centenary Fund contrasted sadly with present stringencies. Professor Boswell, after resigning in 1865 had brought suit for arrears of salary, obtaining a judgment still unsettled three years later.146 Johnson had hoped for an endowment of $200,000 from the conferences, Baltimore, East Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Wyoming, but at the final accounting the College received half that sum, and must then wait for income to accrue.147 Pennell Coombe startled the 1867 meeting of the Board by moving that the new endowment justified an immediate "reconstruction" of the faculty, a position with which his colleagues did not agree.148

The faculty deserved better than this in view of past hardships, and none more than Johnson, who had travelled constantly in pursuit of funds, exhausted his own means, even borrowed from Belles Lettres in order to keep going. Worn out by it all, he died suddenly after a brief and apparently slight illness, April 5, 1868.149 Hillman, as senior professor, took his place, and when the trustees met two months later they heard Mr. Coombe's renewed motion for "a private session, to take into consideration the election of College President & the reconstruction of the Faculty."150 It did not, again, prevail.

The election was held at a special meeting in the Methodist Book Rooms in Philadelphia, September 8, 1868, giving Hillman a full year as Acting President. He was not, however, considered as a candidate. William Henry Allen could have had it, but was held back by a crisis at Girard.151 Pennell Coombe was for Dr. George Beniers Jocelyn, President of Albion and with long experience as a college administrator.152 From the first, however, a majority seems to have leaned toward the selection, for the first time, of a Dickinson alumnus. These defeated another move to postpone the decision and, at the end of a long day, by a vote of 22-3, elected the Rev. Dr. Robert Laurenson Dashiell, of the Glass of 1846.




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