THE event in the history of St. Paul's School, so long foreseen, so keenly apprehended, has occurred: our Rector, in God's own time, has been taken from us. There will come a day when we shall look back and say that all was right, that the end was glorious; that, spared a severance from his charge by long illness or gradual decay of powers, he died fittingly, his work done, the final impress given, his aspirations measurably fulfilled; but to us now the sense of loss is overwhelming; to us now Dr. Coit seems to have died ten years too soon.
The alumni will be eager to learn something of the details of the sad scenes through which we have been passing, and the writer has been asked to contribute this notice to the "Horse." It is reassuring to him to feel that to write of Dr. Coit to them is like writing a letter to personal friends; their absorbing interest is as his own, their grief qualified only by the tempering effects which time and separation bring. The world at large will never quite comprehend our feelings toward the man who has just passed away, how he was to most St. Paul's boys their hero, their ideal of what it is best worth striving to be; and this article, therefore, is written mainly for those who knew and loved its subject, and who will see no exaggeration in the warm appreciations of an alumnus who may claim an intimate knowledge of that about which he speaks. Fortunately, the four weeks which have elapsed since the sad events will afford some perspective, however slight, and will enable him to write more soberly than would have been possible earlier.
When the school reopened after the Christmas holidays, the Rector seemed to be in his usual health. It is true he had taken no rest. While others were off on their vacation, getting the much-needed change and recreation, he still remained at work, engaged in writing letters to parents and attending to the multitude of school details incidental to the closing of one term and the beginning of another. It is said that he wrote five hundred letters during the short three weeks. But his work for the school was by no means his only occupation. The vacation was his great opportunity for looking after the affairs of the neighborhood, and this Christmas, as usual, he spent himself lavishly in behalf of the country people who attended the Old Chapel, and of all who in any capacity were connected with the school and remained there during the holidays. He preached on the Sundays, and at a special service the last night of the year, when we are told that his sermon was sad and depressing, treating of death as though foreboding it. But notwithstanding this poor preparation for the cares and labors of our hardest term, he was bright and cheerful when we came together, and no one had a misgiving as to what was in store.
The boys returned to work on Wednesday, January 9. The Rector attended to all his duties until the week beginning January 20. On that day he preached for the last time in chapel. During the ensuing few days he became unwell, and remained at the rectory, though not confined to his bed. However, on St. Paul's Day, January 25, he occupied his stall in chapel, and it is a coincidence that the anniversary of our patron saint should have been the occasion of his last public appearance in the place he loved so dearly. Only once again did he set foot within its walls, and this was at the early celebration of the Holy Communion, upon the following Sunday, January 27, when he occupied a seat in the choir. But this effort was too much for him, and, after communicating, he was obliged to withdraw, making his way all alone to the vestry, where he was presently found in a fainting condition. On Monday he revived somewhat, and insisted on going over to his study in the school-house for a few hours, but he was worse at night, and it was becoming evident that Dr. Coit was a very sick man. He never left his bed after that night, and, as the week went on, all the symptoms became more unfavorable. His disease, a form of influenza, developed into pneumonia, and was pronounced such by Dr. George B. Shattuck, son of the founder, on Saturday, February 2. His enfeebled constitution could make but little resistance to the deadliness of the attack, and in three days all was over. The end came in the early morning of Tuesday, February 5, at half past three o'clock. The morning of February 5,1895, will never be forgotten by any one who was a member of the community of St. Paul's School on that day. The blow fell like lightning out of a clear sky. The short week's illness had prepared no one for the catastrophe. The boys, especially, had not reali2ed in the least that their revered master was in danger of death; so that when it was whispered about in the various houses at breakfast time that the Rector was dead, they were terribly shocked. They could not believe it. As they filed into the dining-room of the school, there was dead silence instead of the usual murmur of voices. Who will forget the Morning-Chapel that followed: the depressed air of the boys; the look of mingled grief and consternation on the faces of masters; the hymn, "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," not strong-voiced as is wont, but feeble and timeless; the prayer for a community in affliction; the vacant stall; the extreme solemnity of the exit? Then came the formal announcement by the Vice-Rector in the big school-room.
As the days wore on towards the funeral, the excitement was less, but the appreciation of what had happened was more marked. A mass-meeting was held by the boys in the auditorium, over which Mr. Parker was asked to preside. Speeches were made, and the resolutions which are published elsewhere in this number of the "Horse" were passed. Great feeling was manifested, and, indeed, it may be said that throughout this trying ordeal the record of the boys, on the whole, has been what one would wish and what one would expect; they have stood their test well.
The funeral took place on Friday, February 8. The demonstration of feeling from the outside world was so great, as evidenced by the great number of telegrams and letters, that careful arrangements had to be made to receive a large gathering of mourners. There were one hundred and ten of the alumni present, including the residents,--a remarkable number when one considers that the greatest storm of the winter was raging. A full account of this most impressive event is given elsewhere. Owing to the storm, very few of the boys were allowed to go to the cemetery, but many of the alumni followed the carriages through the deep snow on the Hopkinton road, to be present at the last rites. The scene at the grave was extraordinary. The school burial-place lies on an eminence, and the rising ground afforded no shelter against the elements, which were in a tumult. The wind blew fiercely, the snow was drifting heavily; it was a sort of riot like a storm at sea. But there was something magnificent in the ruggedness of it all, not altogether alien to the great soul that had battled unceasingly for the good while on the earth, and then, -when summoned, had austerely left it without regret and without a word. Surely, this was to be no common burial. It seemed as though Nature were herself taking part in so notable a funeral.
But the summer will come, with the green grass and the leaves and flowers, and then it will be seen that the spot where the Hector has been laid to rest is beautiful, and in every respect appropriate. It overlooks the school, and commands a lovely prospect of the chapel tower, which, so recently built and dedicated to the memory of his wife, had long been the object of his heart's desire. That plot of ground, already hallowed by tender memories to many at St. Paul's, has now become a sacred place, the shrine of St. Paul's pilgrims, whither, for years to come, the old boys will find their way, to gaze on the spot where "the Doctor" lies.
When a memoir or life of Dr. Coit shall be written, there will be much material connected with his early life that will be of great interest as showing the circumstances and influence which were instrumental in developing his character. Aside from the discipline of a pious and refined home, and aside from the stimulating effect of life at College Point under the devout and imaginative Muhlenberg, there were public events occurring in his youth which must have profoundly stirred him. He was but twelve years of age when Arnold died at Rugby, and fifteen at the time of the secession of Newman and the culmination of the Oxford movement. These events, with all that they implied and the literature which they evoked,--The Christian Year, Stanley's Life, the Oxford Tracts, Pusey's Sermons,--must have been among his earliest impressions, and their influence may be easily traced through the succeeding years. But there is no opportunity now to enter upon this part of the subject; it will be sufficient to give the main facts of the Rector's life prior to the St. Paul's School period. Dr. Henry Augustus Coit was born January 20, 1830, at Wilmington, Del., where his father, the late Rev. Joseph Howland Coit, D. D., was rector of St. Andrew's Church. In 1832 his family went to Plattsburgh, N. Y., his father having been elected rector of Trinity Church in that city. There his youth was passed until his fifteenth year, when he was sent to the well-known boarding-school at College Point, Flushing, L. I., under Dr. Muhlenberg. In due course he went to the University of Pennsylvania, but, his health giving out, he spent a winter in the South, chiefly in Georgia. On his return, he accepted the position of assistant professor of the ancient languages at St. James's College, Maryland. He remained there about two years, and then, in 1851, assumed charge of a large parish school under the direction of Dr., afterwards Bishop, Bowman at Lancaster, Pa. There he met Miss Mary Bowman Wheeler, to whom he was subsequently married. While at Lancaster, he was ordained Deacon by Bishop Alonzo Potter, the ceremony taking place at St. James's Church, Philadelphia. His ordination to the priesthood followed one year later, in 1854, in Plattsburgh, Bishop Horatio Potter officiating. He was at this time serving efficiently as missionary at Ellenburgh and Centreville, Clinton County, N. Y., having recently left his charge at Lancaster. Here he remained until, having been invited by the Trustees of St. Paul's School to become its Rector, he came to Concord, April 3,1856. His marriage had taken place one week earlier, March 27, in the Church of the Epiphany at Philadelphia.
No attempt will be made here to present an orderly or complete account of Dr. Coit's work and character, or to estimate his place in Church and country. One feels that in this school paper a due reticence must be observed in regard to one "to whom all personal praise was at once pain and punishment." But we shall endeavor to recall to the minds of the alumni those traits and qualities which made him a power.
One of the most striking things in the multitude of letters which have reached the school is the sense of personal loss that they indicate. Although the great loss to the school is fully understood, it is the personal note that prevails. Every one feels that he has lost a friend, that a great influence for good has been withdrawn from his life. "He was the one man," writes one of the most eminent of the alumni, "who had most influenced me in life." Says another, "I reverenced him more than any man I ever knew." No lapse of time, no association with other men, seemed to alter their feelings toward him. And now that he is gone, what a flood of recollections pours in upon the mind! How vividly will be called up the old school days: the manifold ways in which the Doctor's influence was brought to bear upon them; the Thursday night lectures, the Sunday evening hymn; the Confirmation class; the closing address of the year, always strong and apposite; the Doctor's study, the chapel, and, above all, the weekly sermons in the Old Chapel! His influence was astonishing. No boy ever escaped it. Why or how it should be so, there might be difference of opinion, but no one questioned the fact. If one were disposed now to seek the explanation, several causes suggest themselves at once. First of all, there was his enthusiasm for goodness: here was a man in whom there was no compromise with things base or low. Then there was his big, loving heart, which always went out tenderly to the offender, no matter how much it scorned the offense. Finally, there was an inflexibility and steadfastness of will, which, in a world where vacillation is the rule, not only controlled but upheld those with whom he came in contact. Back of all these was an indefinable something which colored everything he did or said, a something which every one recognized, and which gave the note of distinction to the most trivial acts. His determination to aim at the highest and never to be pulled down to the world's standards had a bracing effect upon his colleagues as well as upon the boys. To the latter he was a sort of conscience; they could not face him in a question of right and wrong. Indeed, his old boys never wholly rid themselves of this feeling, and it would be quite true to say that many an alumnus has been deterred from visiting the school when his course of life was such that he could not safely brave an "interview with the Doctor."
If one turns from his relations with individuals to his administration of the school in general, his marvelous power is equally apparent. His handling of the great charge committed to him might fairly be called statesmanship. No one who has never been connected with a great school can form any adequate conception of the labor, the unbroken strain, the burden that devolves upon the head master: he is the responsible person; he is the one that can never afford to neglect anything or any one, or to overlook the most insignificant of the enormous mass of details. But Dr. Coit was equal to all this. His patience and courage seemed invincible. Never in a hurry, always calm, alert against every emergency, he spent himself unreservedly for those who were confided to his care. And he was a very wise man. He knew how to disregard things essentially trivial and unimportant, and to concentrate his efforts upon what was vital. In his dealings with masters this was most noticeable. He did not condescend to petty interference with their methods, and rarely indulged in personal criticism; they had full scope to succeed or fail. If he had to rebuke, he had a unique power of veiling his censure under some broad generalization, which, however, went straight to its mark. Certainly, his method worked well, and no head of a school ever had more devoted or loyal assistants. They felt that he really cared for them, and that the bond between them was not contingent upon success. The one thing he demanded was a faithful discharge of duty, and that, not merely for the interests of the school, but on the broader ground of principle. His sympathy and great appreciativeness called forth what was best in them. They knew that their efforts and sacrifices for the good of St. Paul's were noted. Indeed, it was a striking characteristic of this large community of men and boys that no one felt that he was merged in the crowd, or that he could pursue his own way, either for good or evil, quite unobserved.
The ethical quality in Dr. Coit's equipment was so strong and dominating that one might be led especially at this time, to overlook the intellectual side. But it is obvious that no man could have been the power that he was without a powerful understanding. It was the mind of genius, only genius consecrated. For many years past he had done but little teaching, owing to the stress of other work, but in the early days of the school he always took the higher classes in Latin and Greek. Who, that had the privilege of reading Horace or Homer under him, will ever forget those delightful and stimulating lessons? He was a perfect master of terse and happy translation. We used to think that the rendering came from his lips in iambic pentameters quite ready for the press. He knew the standard classics through and through, had absorbed them, and had that culture which seems to come from nothing else so well as from the study of the dead languages, and which is certainly its best fruit. This culture was the foundation of a literary instinct that rarely failed. His judgments about books and literature were wonderfully sound and penetrating. He hated trash. No amount of public approbation could influence his opinion about a book which seemed to him worthless, especially if it was impure or irreligious. In fact, the merely intellectual, when divorced from the moral, had no interest for him; for him impure art was always bad art, and to read a vicious book for style, as people are sometimes recommended to do, seemed to him absurd as well as wrong. His own reading had been wide and deep, and furnished material to an unusual faculty of illustration. This appeared in his sermons and addresses as well as in class work. The weekly Thursday night talk to the boys, familiarly known as the Rector's Lecture, was one of the most conspicuous examples of his masterly power of dealing with the boys in a body. There was never anything dull about it, but, whether the subject was a general school topic, or else some special tendency or abuse that needed correction, he brought to bear all his wonderful discernment of boy character, and pressed it home with a force of expression always persuasive, often humorous, sometimes with a keen and searching irony that was irresistible. Old boys will agree with the writer that this Thursday talk was a very important factor in maintaining the tone and tradition of St. Paul's.
In speaking of his sermons, one is on different ground. That he was a preacher of great spiritual force could never be doubted by those who listened to him Sunday after Sunday, whose hearts were touched, and whose consciences were stimulated by the words of beauty and power that fell from his lips. We think he would have been a great preacher, even in the world's opinion, had his lot fallen in public places, with pastoral work his first duty. As things were, it seems marvelous that he found time to write sermons at all, when one remembers his custom of preparing the Sunday "instruction," as he would sometimes call it, on a Saturday morning in his study, with the door wide open, amid constant interruption from boys or masters on school matters.
Indeed, he was rarely absent from his Study, for he felt that it was the head master's duty to be at the centre of his work and accessible to his boys at all times. What wonder that forty years of such toil, such routine, such patient threshing over of the same matter with generation after generation of strenuous youth, should at last wear him out! Dr. Coit's premature death was a sacrifice to as high a sense of duty, and to as consistent a following of it, as we have ever known.
He will be remembered as the great Schoolmaster. The parallel with Dr. Arnold is an obvious one, but the two men were, in most respects, quite dissimilar. They were alike in this: they had shown, each for his own country, the possibility of herding large numbers of boys in community life without the vicious and sordid accompaniments that had hitherto been thought necessary evils, and of inspiring a genuine religious tone to the utmost extent that the undeveloped nature of the young will admit. But Dr. Coit was an imitator of no one, and it is an error to suppose that he modeled St. Paul's School after any English type. His educational ideas were not novel; we should say that they were substantially those that were held by most American educators fifty years ago. Like all born leaders of men, he had strong convictions; all questions were not open ones to him, and among these questions one he regarded as settled, namely, that the study of the dead languages is the best and only basis of a sound education. What was novel about the school he created was the extraordinary tone and the noble Christian traditions which his splendid genius inspired. Let no one say that a large school cannot be kept comparatively free from vice in all its forms, for St. Paul's men know that it has been done.
From his inner life we may not venture to remove the veil; this side of his character must be left untold. It was apparent to all where lay the true source of his wonderful power, whence came both the sweetness and the strength; he literally went from his knees to his work. In the last few years, those who knew him best felt that, though the energy and vigor were unimpaired, there was a growing detachment from the things of this world. His natural asceticism seemed to be intensified. His love for literature and the classics was waning, and a greater absorption than ever in the Bible and works of devotion was noticeable. Even his interest in the New Chapel, the completion of which had been so gratifying to him, and the value of which as an aid to true religion he so fully appreciated, was that of one whose mind was dwelling on "the story of the other side." Surely his heart was half in the other world. We might have fancied him lonely had we not known who his Companion was. And so the end came; and, as we return to the thought with which this notice of the Rector was begun, let us assure ourselves that his death is not really premature, but rather the noble crown of a noble work, which, coming thus suddenly, has thrown the flash-light upon the preciousness of the life lived. And his .memory is no mere sentiment, but a mighty stimulus to persevere, to be patient and wise and courageous in carrying on the work which he began.
My Brethren of the Alumni, it rests with you, as well as with us here, to see to it that this work endures.
APPENDIX B. DR. HENRY A. COIT. LETTER FROM THE REV. GEORGE WILLIAM DOUGLAS, D. D.; IN THE NEW YORK "EVENING POST."
IF any man in America deserved a public funeral, it was the late rector of St. Paul's School. And yet I cannot but feel that there was something singularly appropriate in the privacy and loneliness with which, from sheer stress of weather, so far as friends from a distance were concerned, his remains were laid to rest. The three hundred schoolboys on the spot must, indeed, with their teachers, have formed an imposing retinue at the burial; yet these were but a part of the vastly larger number that, under ordinary circumstances, would have thronged about the bier. Very many of us older boys found it to be simply impossible to reach Concord in the blinding, drifting blizzard that prevailed last Friday, blocking all roads and delaying railway trains.
Nevertheless, as my mind goes back to the old days when I was a schoolboy there, it seems, I say, quite in keeping with the character of our dear dead master, that his burial should be thus apart and lonely, hidden by the snow. For was there ever a great man who more instinctively shrank from publicity than Dr. Coit? Never, from start to finish, was it he that put himself forward; it was his work that thrust him into prominence. Never once, in any way, did he advertise either the school or himself. Nay, he recoiled from everything that savored of notoriety with the simple delicacy of a girl. He hated to show himself in strange places, to speak or write in them. The only place where he was thoroughly himself was at his own school, among his own boys,--there he was at home. It was his boys and under-masters, as far and wide they scattered to their homes, that advertised him; as St. Paul said of his disciples, "Ye are my epistle."
There is hardly time, as yet, to measure Dr. Coit's position among our great educators and administrators, or to tell the whole story of his distinguished career. His high position is incontestable,--so great that we can only appreciate it properly after the lapse of years, and by contrast with others who have worked in the same field. Just now, in the shock of his unexpected death, his old boys dwell naturally upon the more distinctively spiritual aspects of his character. I find recurring again and again to my memory a verse of the Psalmist: "They shall go from strength to strength, until unto the God of gods appeareth every one of them in Sion." This was one of his favorite texts. As my mind runs back to the little chapel,--the first one of the earliest days,--I recollect how that text used to crop out again and again in his sermons. I did not care much for sermons in those days, but somehow there was hardly ever a Sunday, if "the Doctor" preached, that some sentence of his did not fasten on me. Though he often repeated himself, the connections of his thought were so various and suggestive that I did not find the repetitions tiresome; and I well remember how surprised and interested I used to be when Sunday after Sunday this same text would once more slip into his thoughts: "They shall go from strength to strength." This was the very thing that he wanted us to do: it was what he had done himself.
Beginning with the three boys in the carriage that brought him to Dr. Shattuck's country-house, bit by bit, he had built up that great school, and had built up himself with it,--himself the stronger as his school waxed strong,--all the poetry and the sentiment of his rarely gifted nature broadening down into the fine virility of the tested man. We used to think him narrow sometimes, but I am not sure that, as we ourselves grow older, we are not coming to perceive that what we then esteemed "narrowness" was ultimate truth of insight. It is not given to many men to be thoroughly religious from the outset to the end of their lives. The heart of most men roams restlessly for a long time before it rests at last in God. But Dr. Coit was religious always. There was no humbug about him. That is why he had such power over us, in spite of ourselves. From class-room and playground to the Thursday evening talks and the daily chapel, that is the sort of a man he was,--the religious man. Here, in very truth, was a man who was "alive unto God." It seemed as if he never opened a book, nor touched a topic, nor met a boy or man, without having "God in all his thoughts." And somehow he never bored us. Other men bored us boys with their religiousness, but "the Doctor" never did. Rather, it appeared as if he had merely gotten on ahead of us, and that very likely we should try to catch up with him by and by. The pathos, the beauty, the risks, the awfulness and the joy, the prospects and the power of the sincere religious life of the human soul,--they have been realized in our lifetime by this man whom we have known, whom we have called our master. It rests with us to follow, or to repudiate, the "secret of Jesus," for which he lived and died. This, I think, is the final impression which every St. Paul's boy, whether of the older time or to-day, has derived from intercourse with that great schoolmaster whose earthly remains were laid to rest last Friday, in the pure New Hampshire snows. TUXEDO PARK, N. Y., February 9, 1895.
LETTER FROM A BOSTON ALUMNUS IN THE "TRANSCRIPT," FEBRUARY 12.
We are accustomed to accept without reserve the statement that the formation of character should be the chief end of all education, but it is seldom that we apply this test in estimating the value of the work of an individual teacher. It is by this test, however, that the life just ended at St. Paul's School must find its true measure; and judged by this standard the name of Henry A. Coit will be remembered as one of the great educators of our time, long after distinctions based on mere methods of instruction and discipline have lost the importance now attributed to them.
There are scholars still remaining to whom the classics are something more than the means of pursuing philological research, there are other preachers of equal eloquence and earnestness, and there are men who can follow the onward moving thought of the times with better success than he, who found in the past so much to reverence and love. There will, however, be found no leader with equal power to make the idea of obedience to his Master seem no mere religious platitude, but the actual motive and inspiration for the everyday life of a whole working community.
St. Paul's School drew its pupils from all parts of the Union; its alumni are scattered over a still wider field. Wherever the news of Dr. Coit's death shall reach one of these men it will bring sorrow that seldom comes save at the loss of a parent. Each man will feel the loss of one to whom he, as a boy, was no mere object for routine instruction, but a living soul to be loved and saved, of one to whom he could send back no good news without giving pleasure and no ill news without giving pain.
The great school that he built may seem to the world the chief evidence of his ability, but to these old boys the stamp of his character set on their lives and enduring unchanged amid the passing influences of later years will be the great proof of his worth as servant of God and leader of men.
APPENDIX C. A GREAT AMERICAN SCHOOLMASTER
EDITORIAL FEOM "THE CHURCHMAN"
THE character of the useful and successful schoolmaster in England has been a tradition for years, as so many things are traditions where office and character descend in the grooves of precedent and prescription. Arnold, Thring, Farrar, are in their different ways examples of great teachers of boys, and guardians of children. But each of these men was supported in his work by a vast accumulation of experience, by all the force of a local tradition; by the prestige which clings to such names as Rugby, and by a definite idea of what the Church and the Universities expected them to do. They were backed by the pride of the English upper classes, and by the memory of that reputation which the English public school had hitherto made, and must maintain in the "schools" at Oxford and Cambridge. The great public schools in England are unique among the educational institutions of the Eastern world. Yet they have sometimes been considered narrow, exclusive, and opposed to modern intellectual progress. Most great English jurists, statesmen, and soldiers have played in the playgrounds of these ancient foundations. They have been the early nurturers in religion and learning of great ecclesiastics. Any one, however, who crosses the Atlantic for the purpose of visiting Eton or Winchester will find in the life and usages of these schools something strangely antiquated. Even the best of English public schools could not bear transplantation to the atmosphere of New England. Yet America has as high an appreciation for noble, manly life, for religion, learning, and manners as is found on the shores of the mother country.
How to cherish this manly life, this religion and learning, apart from the encumbering traditions of an older society, was the problem which had presented itself to those who favored high education for boys in the years before the late Henry A. Coit undertook the founding of St. Paul's School, Concord, in 1856. For from this year is dated the arrival of the American "public school" as an institution which rivals in success and usefulness even the venerable foundations of Wykham and Edward VI. In art, imitation is a confession of weakness; in all educational methods, mere imitation is a certain warrant of failure. Although Dr. Coit may have caught inspiration from Arnold's method of managing Rugby, it would be ridiculous to say that Coit was an imitation of Arnold. The two men were in some points almost diametrically opposed. On one point they were in complete agreement. They believed that character was the first thing to be aimed at in educating boys. They believed that the great object of a schoolmaster was to cultivate in the child a type of moral convictions, of moral habits, that should survive the vicissitudes of life, and be the firm basis of strength and consistency in conduct. They both went one step farther in holding that no other means could successfully be employed in thus educating boys than the religion of Christ.
Rugby was a great school principally because it was a school of character. The influence of Arnold may have produced a few prigs; but it moulded a great number of heroes, as well as of saints. Dr. Coit was greater than Arnold in that he not only applied old principles to a new condition of things; but he actually created the American "public school." A greater test cannot be applied to the goodness and wisdom of a schoolmaster than the test which Dr. Coit stood for nearly forty years. The criticism of the young, and the deliberate opinion of the old and experienced, will not deny to Dr. Coit the merit of having his plans fulfilled in the success of his work. We feel convinced that late posterity will look towards Concord with feelings of veneration, and acknowledge that he who raised those walls and built that sanctuary was a great American schoolmaster.
APPENDIX D. MINUTES OF MEETINGS OF ALUMNI
NEW YORK, February 6, 1895.
THE great career of Dr. Coit as Rector and Head Master of St. Paul's School from its foundation, nearly forty years ago, has already made its indelible impression upon the educational institutions and interests of this country. Throughout the history of the school, from its beginning with three boys up to its present eminent position among the schools of America, the one commanding individual influence and impulse in its progress was that of Dr. Coit, who by his unswerving adherence to the loftiest Christian ideals, by his impersonal and disinterested motives, by his rare scholarship and commanding personality, has made St. Paul's School what its founder intended it to be--a school from which boys were sent forth educated Christian gentlemen.
We share with others, in the death of Dr. Coit, the great and illustrious teacher and man, this sense of a great public loss to the country and to education. But for us old boys of the school, whose privilege it was to know him, to be taught by him, to listen to his words in the Chapel and at the Thursday evening talks in the school-room, to learn to reverence and love him as a friend, there is a more tender and personal grief which is peculiarly our own.
HENRY SKELTON CARTER,
Chairman of the Meeting of the Alumni of St. Paul's School in the City of New York, held February sixth, 1895, signing on behalf of and at the request of the Alumni.
WlLMOT T. COX, Secretary of the Meeting,
The Philadelphia Alumni of St. Paul's School, having met on Wednesday, the 6th of February, unite in expressing their grief for the loss which has fallen upon the school and all connected with it. In the death of Dr. Coit we have lost one who beneficently influenced our lives and characters at their beginning, and who, when we left his direct guidance, did not relinquish his concern for us, but followed our careers unforgettingly. Beside our personal bereavement, we feel that our whole country suffers from the closing of a life that was dedicated to its highest welfare, the shaping of good citizens and Christian men. We feel that the example which he set in building up a school like St. Paul's has been a benefit not only to us, but to the boys of other schools modeled on its plan. The older we have grown, the wider our acquaintance with men, the rarer seems to us the character of Dr. Coit. He was absolutely unselfish; he gave all his great abilities to, he wore out his life in, his work; he cared for nothing but the highest things.
To the Rector's family we beg to express our deepest sympathy.
GEORGE H. FISHER,
Committee for Alumni.
BOSTON, February 21,1895.
DEAR SIR,--We, St. Paul's School alumni of Boston and vicinity, have been brought together by a common wish to tell you, and through you the family and masters at the school, of our overflowing feelings, caused by the death of our dear Dr. Coit.
There is not one of us who does not owe much of what is best in us to him. We feel we have lost, for the rest of our lives here, a friend, than whom none could be truer. The loss is not only to you, ourselves, and the other alumni, but to the Church and the whole country.
But amidst all our profound sorrow it is a comfort to think in how many lives he continues to live, how many men he has influenced to aim for what is good and noble. It is a satisfaction to think of his large work completed: the great school, with its buildings all free from debt; the beautiful and now finished chapel, which is the appropriate emblem of the spiritual centre of the school's life; the thorough organization; the refined, cultivated, manly, and uplifting Christian traditions; the vice-rector and masters whom he had brought about him through devotion to his most important work, and whom he inspired, we feel confident, to carry on the school successfully in the way to keep it up to his high standard.
While we cannot but grieve that a presence so full of rich blessings has gone from us, we must yet express our warm appreciation of the great privilege of having been with one of such rare gifts and high attainments.
"With earnest loyalty to St. Paul's School and Dr. Colt's memory, believe us, faithfully yours,
GEORGE B. SHATTUCK, FRED. C. SHATTUCK, RICHARD H. DANA, FRANCIS H. APPLETON, FRANCIS V. PARKER, GEORGE B. LITTLE, GEORGE A. COMINS, W. DUDLEY COTTON, RICHARD M. BRADLEY, CLEAVELAND A. CHANDLER, JAMES G. MUMFORD, JOHN W. LAVALLE, WILLIAM T. CROCKER, CHARLES B. PERKINS, CHARLES P. CHENEY, FRANK R. PETERS, W. H. PULSIFER, ROBERT P. BOWLER, W. A. L. BAZELEY, B. B. CROWINSHIELD, CHARLES C. BARTON, ELLIS L. DRESEL, HARRY K. WHITE, Secretary.
At a meeting on February 11, 1895, of persons living in and near Baltimore, who have been students at Saint Paul's School, Concord, New Hampshire, the following minute and resolution were adopted:--
From April, 1856, when our Rector began the work of Saint Paul's School, with the sympathetic aid of his young wife,--who continued always to be, until her lamented death, his ablest assistant,--to February 5, 1895, when he was called to his reward, it is no more than the truth to say that the life and the moving spirit of that school, which has now become so strong and famous, was Henry Augustus Coit.
A munificent and always helpful founder, generous friends, and many accomplished instructors, have contributed largely during nearly forty years, in their several departments, to the great work; "but through all this tract of years" his was the guiding mind and the master spirit which moulded and formed Saint Paul's School; his the directing personal influence, which has ever been exerted for good upon all,--masters and boys alike,--who at any time enjoyed the privilege of his friendship or were subject to his direction.
Now that his life's work is ended, and he himself has gone to render his own account to the Great Taskmaster for the faithful and noble use made of the varied talents which were committed to his charge, we, who were his boys,--each one gratefully remembering our Rector for benefits received which were appropriate and personal to himself,--can all unite in bearing our testimony that, at the school which he created, generation after generation of young men have enjoyed every advantage of training and education,--religious, moral, intellectual, and physical,--which it was possible for devoted intelligence to command or liberality to bestow.
And apart from all that we enjoyed in common with the multitude of the boys of Saint Paul's School, who are now so widely scattered over every portion of the country, we who went, before and during and since the Civil War, from Southern homes, to the far distant school in New Hampshire, have reason to remember with especial gratitude the Rector, whose loving sympathy and all-embracing patriotism were bounded by no section and rose superior to all differences: and made him, in peace and war,--even in camp and hospital and imprisonment,--the chivalrous and constant friend of his Maryland boys.
Able, learned, and accomplished, gentle and generous, courteous and brave, a servant of God, and a lover of his fellow-men, his life was a benefaction, and his example will continue long to be an incentive.
Resolved, That this minute be adopted, and that copies be sent by the secretary to the family of Dr. Coit, and to the Vice-Rector of Saint Paul's School, and the school paper.
(Signed) LAURASON RIGGS,
LEIGH BONSAL, WM. L. DEVKIES, Committee.
At a meeting of the St. Paul's School Club of Yale University, to take action on the death of the Rev. Dr. Henry A. Coit, the late Head Master of the school, the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:
WHEREAS, It has pleased God to take from us our beloved Rector of St. Paul's School, the Rev. Dr. Henry Augustus Coit, and
WHEREAS, He has been among the foremost of the educators of this country, and has with untiring zeal built up St. Paul's School to the high place which it now occupies, and has by his personal interest and encouragement in each boy, gained the place of a sympathetic and trusted friend, yet especially shall we, to whom the noble character of his Christian life was always evident, feel the loss of his example, be it
Resolved, That we, the alumni of St. Paul's School in Yale University, make known our sense, not only of the irreparable loss to St. Paul's School, but also of the individual loss that each of us has sustained; and do from our hearts extend our sympathy to his family and friends and to the school with which we have all been so closely connected; be it further
Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed by the President of the St. Paul's Club, who, together with the officers of the club, shall extend these resolutions to the family of the deceased, and that they be printed in the "Yale News" and the "Horae Scholasticae." (Signed)
C. VANDERBILT, JR.,
A. B. SHEPLEY,
Z. BENNETT PHELPS,
JAMES A. McCREA,
ROBERT S. BREWSTER,
PAUL H. LYMAN,
CHARLES V. HOPKINS,
At a meeting of the trustees of Groton School, called to take action upon the death of the Rev. Henry Augustus Coit, D. D., LL. D., late Head Master of St. Paul's School, Concord, held in Boston, February 22, 1895, the following minute was adopted:--
When a leader falls his loss is realized by those who at some distance have felt the inspiration of his life, as well as by those who have been closest to him.
Groton School joins with St. Paul's in deep sorrow at the death of Henry Augustus Coit. The ability, courage, and devotion with which Dr. Coit built up St. Paul's School has long been recognized. An intelligent student of the English public schools, a discriminating admirer of Arnold, a disciple of Muhlenberg, he developed a school which, while adopting certain English features, was American in spirit.
A strong Churchman, of deep evangelical piety, he led boys and masters to love the Church and to devote themselves to their Master.
As a leader in the education of boys he emphasized the unity of the boy life. The chapel, the schoolhouse, and the playground were all essential features. Faith was linked to duty, mental culture to spiritual development, and physical strength to moral courage.
Thorough, patient, and inspiring as a teacher, firm and sympathetic in discipline, keen and exact in his insight of character, regarding each boy with tender solicitude, he has given to American teachers, especially those in Church schools, a great and noble ideal of their office.
Through the influence of his leadership, other schools have been founded, and to his memory Groton turns with deep gratitude.
Voted, That this minute be spread upon the records, and that copies be sent to the family of Dr. Coit, the Trustees of St. Paul's School, and "The Churchman."