صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

you as an intrusier on their domain. I can assure you that the ablest and hest of them, without a single exception, would be very glad that a stranger would administer that excoriation which they know is so well deserved, and so necessary, but which their personal relations with some of the parties most directly concerned preclude them from administering themselves.

“But, first of all, you should try to secure admission to the classes by hook or crook. In any other institution claiming to occupy any respectable rank, there would be no difficulty in this respect. Here, however, there is every difficulty. Before you are permitted to see the mysteries, you must be duly initiated. If there is the least suspicion that you are critically disposed, and not blinded by ignorance, you must not hope to hear any recitations at the University of Pennsyl. vania. At all events do not fail to make the effort. You remember the line in Terence:

Nihil tam difficile est quid quærendo investigari possiet. 6. Then at vorst the fact of continuing the “injunction of secrecy' will tell for itself. "Hoping for the best, I remain,

.“ Your obedient servant,

In order to guard against the possibility of our being inAuenced by personal pique on the part of those who have written to us thus, without having received any intimation from us, further than what they may have inferred from our published criticisms, we made inquiries of the most distinguished scholars and literary men of Philadelphia. To these inquiries we have received a pile of replies, all, with scarcely an exception, fully corroborating the views of those who took the initiative in writing to us on the subject as above. Of the replies recently received it will be sufficient to present our readers one which may be regarded as eminently representative, and the candor and impartiality of which will be apparent to all.

“PHILADELPHIA, Friday, Nov. 22, 1872. "My Dear Doctor-As you will see by the enclosed slips which I have just found after the forenoon's search among put-by newspapers, the University is now to be transferred to splendid new buildings in West Philadelphia. The speeches delivered on Oct. 11, on the inauguration thereof, will tell you how the money was raised, and generally tell you the history of the University. I send a slip rather than a news paper, for newspapers often don't reach their intended destination.

“Since you ask my opinion I tell you in confidence that I arrived long ago at the conclusion that this University, with one exception, is • a cheat, a mockery, and a delusion. The exception is its medical department, the only live branch of the tree, which flourishes because, having to compete with the Jefferson Medical College-an excellent institution—it had to be alive, or sink. It is about as good as the other, and both have made Philadelphia the foremost school of medicine in America. Most of the professors, you will see, are connected with this medical and surgical department Professor Allen, in the Greek chair, is an erudite and modest man, and J. P. Lesley, Professor of Mining, is a good teacher.

“I honestly believe that few graduates of this University know languages or science. Among the most ignorant men I have met here are persons who had graduated in the University of Pennsylvania, men who know 'little Latin and less Greek,' and cannot speak five minutes without breaking Priscian's head; men who may write decent business letters, but spell as pleases their own fancy. How they could have graduated has been the puzzle of many years to me.

“ Take away the medical department of this University, and little more remains—in languages, law, science, and arts-than the shadow of a shade. I will not say it is a "bogus, but that it is an effete institution; and I have yet to meet one good scholar educated at it. Yet folks here think it a fine affair !

“Very faithfully,

There is nothing overlooked in this letter which could be justly said in favor of the institution. But how little that is ! In the main, its testimony is exactly like that given by every intelligent, honest man, who has any knowledge of that institution, and takes any interest in the intellectual wants, tastes, and aspirations of Philadelphia.*

*Fortunately, Philadelphia has by no means to depend exclusively on the University of Pennsylvania in these respects. She has several institutions in which both the classic languages and the sciences are taught intelligently and efficiently. This is eminently true, for example, of La Salle College, although it eschews display and clap-trap; but accordingly there is no inBut let us see what is the testimony of the University itself. Regarding what we have hitherto been considering as external evidence, we will now turn our attention, though only for a moment, to what may be regarded as the internal evidence. We have a large mass of this in the five columns of closely printed matter, cut from the Philadelphia Ledger, of October 12, 1872, and for a copy of which we are indebted to the courtesy of the author of the letter last quoted above.

Curiously enough, the burden of all this speeching is the windows of the University's new buildings! Every orator has a“ memorial window” for his text. Far be it from us to deny that an institution of learning should honor the memory of those who have distinguished themselves by their efforts to increase its efficiency, and secure for it an honorable name. Still less would we deny that some of the highest and greatest names that adorn our history, have such claims on the University of Pennsylvania. In illustration of this, we need only mention Benjamin Franklin and David Rittenhouse, although neither the philosopher nor the astronomer received the smallest part of his education at the University of Pennsylvania, or was in any manner indebted to that institution for his learning or his fame. There is scarcely one of the others to whom "memorial windows" are consecrated, who had either learning or fame of more than ordinary character, of whom the same may not be said. But had it been otherwise—had all these illustrious men been alumni of the Universityeven then the windows would not have been the proper place for the perpetuation of their memory. This, however, we shall not quarrel with. We have no particular objection to see things burnished on the outside, if the inside be in keeping with that burnishing. But this is notoriously not the case in the University of Pennsylvania, and accordingly we must confess that its “memorial windows” remind us too forcibly of the memorial windows” of institutions like Barnum's Museum-windows that lead the credulous to expect to be shown for their money many wonderful things, whereas, when they have paid their money, most of those things, if not all, prove to have no existence, at least in that particular museum !

stitution in America whose classes are more accessible to all who wish to observe their progress, or put their training to the test. There, instead of being evaded by excuses more or less polite, but puerile, as at the University of Pennsylvania and Fordham, or by downright abuse, as at Seton Hall, they are treated as invited, welcome guests.

It now only remains for us to extract a passage or two from some of the orators who took the most prominent part in the inauguration ceremonies. We should like to present our readers several long extracts as curiosities, but we have so little space and time left now that we must necessarily be brief. It will be admitted that from none connected with the institution should we expect more important information, or better things, than from the head of its Faculty. But let us see:

"Professor C. J. Stillé, M. D., LL. D., Provost of the Faculty, replied, and, after a few introductory remarks, said: “To-day we come before the world with the formal announcement that we have here at last a true University, complete in all its parts, in which men may receive in all the various departments of human knowledge that training and liberal culture which shall fit them to be the leaders and guides of their fellow-men. Such an event is not only memorable in the history of the University, but it is also one, if rightly apprehended, of great significance in the history of the community in which we live. For if it be true that we have here and now a University able and ready to do the work which such an institution should do, and the people of Philadelphia are fully im. pressed with that belief, then, indeed, it is not easy to exaggerate the importance of the event, or overestimate the far-reaching results of what has been done to us and to those who are to come after us.'”

We italicize a few words, although it is scarcely necessary. Let the reader please admire the grammar of this passage, especially that of the second and third sentences. First, it is admitted that it is only “at last” we have got “a true University” in Philadelphia. Of course, it follows that the thing hitherto called by that name was but a sham. In some instances more truth is told by implication than by direct statement, and the present is clearly one of those instances. Now that Philadelphia has “ at last” secured the "true" thing, her good people may expect hereafter to “be the leaders and guides of their fellow-men ”(!) We entirely agree with the learned Provost that this is “ of great significance," “if rightly apprehended," to "the community in which we (the Faculty, etc.,) live.” Still a doubt creeps in, “ For if it be true that we have here and now a University able and ready," etc., says the provost; but that “if” makes a great difference. Be this as it may, we should like to know who reads the “compositions” at the University of Pennsylvania, and whether its syntax is as much a matter of fancy as its orthography. Probably none will wonder, however, that an educator so careful of the feelings of his students, especially while engaged at their recitations, and who knows so well how to use the English language so as to render it astonishing “if rightly apprehended,” should be complimented by one of the principal orators of the inauguration, in the following handsome manner :

“The University has entered upon a new era. Its learned provost (to whom I acknowledge my obligations for most interesting information in regard to the College) and its able professors stand ready to sustain and advance its well-earned reputation.

To this we can only add the following small specimen of the style in which the “ memorial windows” receive their finishing touches :

“Next in order of time must be named the great mechanician and astronomer, David Rittenhouse. This very remarkable man deserves something more than a passing notice.

“He was not only an American, but a native of this county, and was born upon the 8th of April, 1732, in the then township of Roxborough, now in the Twenty-first Ward of the city of Philadelphia. His great-grandfather, William, established about the year 1690 the first paper mill in British America, upon a small stream called . Paper-mill Run,' in Roxborough. When the subject of this sketch was 17 years of age he made a wood'.n clock, and soon after constructed a twenty-four hour clock.

“Such mechanical genius could not be overlooked or neglected,

« السابقةمتابعة »