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Memories of a Great Schoolmaster: Dr. Henry A. Coit
by James P. Conover

Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1906.


THESE "Memories" have been printed with the desire of recalling an "old boy's" impressions of the personality of one around whom grew a great school, and whose honored name is among the cherished possessions of nearly three generations of St. Paul's men.

No memory of any characteristic word or act has been withheld, though the apparent inconsistencies of Dr. Coit's character were as marked and puzzling as those of other great men. Let it be remembered, moreover, that the subject of this memoir, owing to his comparatively secluded life, experienced little of the leveling process that naturally falls to the lot of most men. While he was always supreme in his little kingdom, bound by no conventionalities of "keeping school," with all his forces constantly arrayed to elevate the "prevailing tone" of schoolboy honor, there were many pairs of sharp eyes to observe, and many irresponsible tongues ready to report abroad any peculiarities of method or principle. In this connection, it is worth recalling that St. Peter spoke of "our dear brother Paul" as writing "some things hard to be understood."

The memory of one man, therefore, is very inadequate to do justice to such a life; howbeit, in that memory stands out clear and distinct a personality so great and noble as to overshadow all seeming defects.

The author is indebted to the records of the Coit family for most of the facts in the introductory chapter. He desires also to thank Mr. Willard Scudder of St. Paul's School for much valuable aid in revision of manuscript and proof.

Dr. Coit never wrote for publication. At the earnest request of friends, however, he allowed to be printed a sermon, preached shortly after the death of his friend Dr. Shattuck, the founder of St. Paul's School. He also wrote an article on schools for "The Forum."

Both of these have been inserted in this book as fair examples of his sentiments and style of expression.

His correspondence was very large, but was confined to personal matters of no great concern except to those to whom he wrote. A few of these letters have been inserted in the last chapter, to show the deep and abiding interest which he took in those who had been in any way under his influence. It should be remembered that these letters were written very rapidly in time snatched from school cares.

In an appendix have been added several of the many tributes which were written at the time of Dr. Coit's death, with the hope of thus preserving them in some permanent form.

ST. PAUL'S SCHOOL, April 3, 1906.

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