THE following narrative was undertaken in order to record a life which was full of stimulus to all, and especially the youth who came in contact with it.
The attempt is made to draw the picture from an intimate companion's standpoint, for such was the writer. If the filial affection show too markedly, it will be pardoned, when the intent of the author, to share a glorious example vouchsafed him, is known.
This brief sketch is submitted under the title which appeared most suited to its bearer. He lost his personal identity in the exercise of his office.
Biographical detail is omitted as much as possible, that alone being introduced which appeared to have a direct bearing on the character picture in hand.
To my esteemed and learned friend, Professor George B. Hopson, D.D., I am greatly indebted for the words of eulogy which are reproduced in the last pages by his permission. They will add much of value and testimony to the other chapters.
Grateful acknowledgment is made of the aid afforded by my friend, Nathan T. Beers, Jr., M.D., in illustrating the work.
H. A. F.
BROOKLYN, March 3, 1899.
II. College Days
III. Clergyman; Parish Priest; School-Teacher;
V. The Warden: His Religious and Educational Views
VI. Position in the Community
VII. Author and Scholar
IX. Robert B. Fairbairn: A Memorial by Professor G. B. Hopson, D.D
ROBERT BRINCKERHOFF FAIRBAIRN was born in New York City in May, 1818, in the section then known as Greenwich village. His father was a Scotchman who came to this country in 1796; his mother an American, formerly Miss Mary Mott of Poughkeepsie-on-the-Hudson.
Robert's early days were along unpretentious lines. His father, at one time a man of wealth, was a book publisher with limited resources. That means much to a child, and it meant much to Robert. He was a vigorous fellow fortunately; he was vigorous in mind and body, and had not passed many years of existence before we find him in active life, with a school education, of which he often spoke afterwards--its rigid discipline, the application of a rattan for a mis-spelled word, or for an accidental smile at play of wit, in contrast to the moral suasion of the present day.
After his school days he became a clerk in a stationery store, at 301 Pearl Street, New York, which belonged to Mr. Octavius Long-worth, a resident of Williamsburgh, with whom he boarded. Robert had already developed a taste for reading, particularly along theological lines. We hear of his frequent and persistent argument with his father, a devout Presbyterian, on questions of religion, and we hear of the parental protest against heresy. We hear, moreover, of untoward prophecy as to the destiny of the son who had so far deviated from the trodden path as to identify himself with the Protestant Episcopal Church. We hear again of his persistence in this course after the logical mind had laid out its lines, in the face of argument and respectful discussion.
The Rev. Samuel M. Haskins, of Williamsburgh, now a part of Brooklyn, was Robert's rector at this time. He had a chapel, and was engaged in the erection of the now historic St. Mark's Church, Brooklyn, E. D. The chapel was unique in that there was a cross upon it. There was no other Protestant Episcopal Church in New York or Brooklyn--we may say in the country--at the time so adorned. The Puritanical horror of the cross as a relic of Popish idolatry was still prevalent. In St. Paul's, in New York, there was a small cross on the pulpit, which latter was a high, ancient one, surmounting a desk where the clergy read the service. Dr. Haskins's chapel was one of four Protestant Episcopal churches in Brooklyn. In New York at the time there were seventeen.
There were some features of particular interest in the little chapel of St. Mark's. They were thought to be "High," extremely "High Church" at that time. There was a lofty altar on three steps. Upon this was a golden cross surrounded by rays, and on either side was a candelabrum with seven candles in each. The introduction of these ornaments was according to the teaching of Bishop Whittingham. They were so unusual at the time that people thought the church Roman Catholic, and would often enter the edifice and depart with the same idea. Roman Catholics, on the other hand, would frequently remain until the beginning of service would make plain their mistake. We mention these facts in the religious experience in early youth as they may have a bearing on the future.
It was at this time that there was much difference of opinion as to the style of altar: whether it should be the simple open table or the closed one of modern times. Bishop Mcllvaine, of Ohio, was especially strenuous on the subject, refusing absolutely to consecrate a church until he had examined it and found it provided with a four-legged or open table. On one occasion he examined an altar which appeared open, because the panels had been taken out for the time being, and so it passed. Subsequently the panels were replaced.
Dr. Haskins and Mr. Longworth speak of the sobriety of Robert, his close attention to his work, his promptness, his cheerful disposition and his neatness in book-binding and other work.
On Sunday he was a regular and constant attendant on divine service in the little chapel of St. Mark's. He never allowed anything to interfere with this, which he regarded as a paramount duty. And in the same spirit he continued throughout his career. It is a point to emphasize, it is an element in the steadfast faith which he builded, which proved his sure foundation: that he was a constant attendant on the sanctuary. Well may the youth of the day ponder thereon, well may they dwell upon it in these times when worldly pleasures abound to draw them away! Thus grew the quiet, thoughtful, cheerful, guileless character which then, and ever after, was a joy to itself and an example and support to others.
In after life we find the following expression in one of his sermons, which well states his innate feeling on the matter: "I look upon the church," he said, "as the place above all others where joy and peace and happiness may be found, where you may leave the world behind you, and where you may find your highest consolation. It ought to be the place whose associations are those of the highest happiness and the deepest joy."
Robert's character attracted the attention of many. They saw in him the indications of more than ordinary worth, and encouraged him in his determination to secure a thorough education. Prominent among them was Miss Juliana Longworth and to her constant interest, manifested by many a kindly act, was due, in part, the attainment of a college education. It was my pleasure to meet her in recent years. She spoke with pride of the straightforward career, and emphasized Robert's studious habits as an element of his success. His evenings, she said, were passed in communion with his books, which, by the way, were numerous and were supplied by his father's publishing house. She made especial mention of the works of Robert Burns, an edition issued by Dr. J. Currie, of Liverpool, and published by William Fair-bairn in Philadelphia in 1804, and was pleased to find that the quaint old volumes had been preserved.
Robert's accurate memory for the dates and facts which he had gathered in his extensive reading made him an entertaining companion. He was a person of remarkable judgment for his years. This, with good common sense and refinement of manner, which showed a goodly inheritance as well as cultivation, endeared him to men of prominence. They made him their companion and associate.
In a business house adjoining that in which Robert was employed he became acquainted with a youth of congenial nature. Between them an intimacy sprang up, fostered by their daily intercourse. It continued unbroken for many a day, and when the change of occupation came their paths were widely separated. For fifty years they failed to meet. Finally they came together at the convocation of the University Regents at Albany, N. Y., Robert then an educator of distinction, his companion a noted jurist. The intercourse of early years thus re-established continued to the end. Their industry, their characters, their tastes, their aims, which brought them together at first, had progressed by cultivation to a healthy maturity, and made them an influence each in his own sphere.
The much-beloved clergyman, the Rev. Dr. Haskins, was in after years, as in the earlier, a close companion and friend of Robert. He visited him in college and parish and retirement, and exercised by his faith and benevolence a telling influence on the youth's career.
The arrangements for a collegiate course were finally completed. The sturdy youth grew more studious and active, if that were possible, as the days went by and it became apparent that fortune had smiled on him. The plans for the future were quickly laid, the institution chosen, and Mr. Longworth lost his valuable clerk and the Rector his youthful parishioner.
WE must not tarry, in this brief narrative, to note the journey by steamer, coach, and foot to the odd little college in the Pennsylvanian town. Happiness, zeal, faith in the future were the qualities in Robert which inspired his friends in their many ministrations to his comfort and welfare. He departed with every detail of moderate want attended to by kind and faithful hearts. He entered on his preliminary course beneath the sunshine of encouragement and adequate support. These two elements have builded much of good in all experience.
While certain men of note have traced success to hardy discipline in early years, their sinews toughened for the future tasks by the struggle for an education; other worthy intellects have attained that end without such experience in their period of development, the sunshine of relative prosperity seeming the necessary spur to maturity of powers. Its lack in fact has stunted, well-nigh blotted out, many a promising work. The encouragement of youth, the godly stimulus to active, earnest effort are the daily opportunities offered along the walks of life. Happy he who does not let them pass!
It was in October, 1834, that Robert found himself in that remarkable institution, Bristol College. It was situated in the suburbs of the town of Bristol, on the banks of the Delaware River. History tells us little of this seat of learning. It might amuse us much if it would only speak. To develop body as well as mind was the founder's intent. With that end in view, cohorts, with centurions as their leaders, were formed. To hoe potatoes and to till the soil these mighty bands were daily marshalled forth. The call to breakfast was at break of day; the final snuff of candle during early eve.
The abounding eccentricity within and the vacuity of funds without offered a strain well-nigh too great for mortal structure to long resist. In two short years, and with a final strife, explosion came; and thereafter it remained unknown. There was one, a learned divine, a moral and metaphysical philosopher of note, a writer of great force, among the few instructors of this training-school. Like many men of great talent, he was blunt, peculiar; in short, he was an uncompromising individual. He was the great character of the institution, however, and his contributions to literature and theology live to-day. I have often heard it said that Robert absorbed this man's great qualities, which found sympathetic chords in the youthful heart and caused them to vibrate in their nascent state, and as they grew they gathered strength along the rich, harmonious lines of learned thought and philosophic research. And this illustrates well the plastic quality of the youthful nature. It illustrates well the perpetuity of college influence.
There was another lad within these walls whose mind was far above the ordinary. He had an inborn vein of wit and humor. The eccentric trend of the professor's mind amused this youth and he immediately set about reproducing it. That he did this with great success his after history shows. In the pulpit, in the professorial chair, he made his mark by the eccentric act. Whatever he did, "it was to laugh." He failed in life. He failed on account of his frivolity. In his case the smaller qualities were reproduced. They alone were allowed to develop, and thus the greater ones were lost.
Were there time for illustration, we might name the many acts of this old model. If we did so, earnestness would shine out in every one. About him there was no sham. The act of insolence and insubordination brought down certain wrath upon the perpetrator's head. A case in point was a chapel scene. The text announced was terse and blunt and brought a smile to a youthful face. In an instant the storm had gathered, and the wrathful theologian closed his manuscript with an ominous sweep of his hand. "Do you laugh at that?" he cried with awful voice. And then and there an arraignment followed which has lived for many a year. General-like, in an instant, he changed his line of campaign to a vigorous onslaught on irreverence.
With all this discipline and lofty teaching, human nature showed the same, at times, as it does to-day. We hear of the fate of heavy bread and rancid butter, when, at signal from a stalwart ring-leader, the nauseous articles were thrust beneath the wooden tables by the aid of the two-pronged forks of steel. We hear, moreover, when this lesson failed of the overturning of the baker's cart.
But enough of this! As we said before, the elements of disintegration from too great pressure within and no support from without brought matters to an untimely end. Robert, with a scholar's repute already attained, left these shades with many companions, to complete his course in a much-honored place of learning. Washington College, at Hartford, Conn., now called Trinity, took him under her protecting wing and nurtured him, educated him, honored him, graduated him, and sent him into the world well-equipped. And as the man of learning she continued to honor him whenever she could. While her son, her honor and her works he made his own. He distinguished himself by occupying the first position in his class. It was not ability alone which reaped such reward. Let our reader mark well the other element, the main element in this and other work, untiring industry. He was at his proper place at the appointed time with work prepared, and when on one occasion he failed, the professor would not believe his senses. This professor, detained by untimely guests, had sent word to the waiting class to depart and prepare a lesson for the following day. The effervescent youths demurred, and there agreed to answer, "Not prepared." When, on the following day, the assembled class was directed to proceed with the aforesaid task, the prearranged answer "Not prepared" was received in silence, until it came from our faithful youth. This was too much for the Scotchman's brain; the wit or mischief then became too manifest, and in a tone of wrath he cried, "There is a conspiracy, gentlemen; a conspiracy! You are dismissed!" In after life when recounting the scene, in reminiscent strain, to the aged gentleman, the latter said, with emphatic voice, "I say to-day, as I said then, if you were not prepared there was a conspiracy." No better proof of good and faithful work need here be sought. Industry was the youth's characteristic, and so it continued ever after. It is one of the secrets of success in every life. That, with truth and honor and straightforwardness go to make up manliness. It is not station nor deep learning nor great abilities which give character, power, and influence in the world. But it is manliness with its four characteristics. Testimony of teacher and scholar and companion bear witness to their possession by Robert.
But where is the youth of great ability whom we found busied with his witty creation of character in the little college now defunct'^ He is here, he is at his self-imposed task still. Oddity begins to show its unfortunate features in his various acts. We hear of a very funny, very droll description of a summer's journey by this artificial youth. It had much of merit, literary merit, within its pages: but the language was the biblical and there the reputation lagged. Whatever he did, "it was still to laugh." The smaller chords had gained in strength by their constant vibration and so they continued, as we shall see.
There were two professors, both men of rank and great ability, who taught the youth in Robert's time in this institution which has given birth to so many valued scholars. They were men of originality. They were prone to dwell on their particular lines of thought. They were odd, therefore, as the common saying goes. But their sterling qualities overshadowed all of this and they wielded a mighty influence. We might tell of much in proof of this. We might name in numbers those who have adorned the various professions by reason of the character moulded here and by the aid of these skilled artificers. Among them all looms up our witty youth, still bent on seeking food for mirth. He found in them some more material and used it for amusement's sake.
Quiet was the rule in these college days. There was seldom anything to arouse and excite the men. Athletics were unknown on river or on field. The cane-struggle had not yet been born. There were the youthful follies, but we fail to find Robert connected with one. He was in all senses sober-minded. He was busied with his books and his country walks. As we said, he graduated first in his class, and soon we find him in New York in the General Seminary. And there his former history repeats itself. We see him appointed to read the service in St. Philip's Church. We hear of earnest work and success. Here, again, is the witty friend, "the poet" now as he is called. With him it is still the laugh in work and play. He continues his odd and artificial career. He carries it with htm into after life. For a time the parish priest--we might say the ephemeral parish priest--he travels east and west and south. Stability has no charm for him, and after a varied and unsuccessful course he appears, by chance, a trainer of the youth. These latter were not long in discovering his anomalous venture, nor did they stay its untoward end. Numerous relics of his able work exist to-day, though they are darkened and well-nigh forgotten. Life appeared to him a grand hurrah, and so he strove to make it. But he "reckoned without his host," and hence the end.
THE CLERGYMAN AND PARISH PRIEST, SCHOOL TEACHER, MISSIONARY, AND CHAPLAIN
THE collegiate and seminary course completed, Robert Fairbairn was duly ordained a minister of the Gospel. We have glanced at his career as the boy, the youth, and the student. We have been impressed with his manliness, his determination, and his industry. He started out with very clear views of what he desired to accomplish, and made use of the means at hand to carry it out. This he did with sincerity, zeal, and straightforwardness, and with ever present and implicit faith in God. That was his character in the dormitory and in the class-room, in the daily walk and in recreation. He was a genuine man, the affectionate friend, showing these qualities in his voice, his works, and the hospitable act, and surrounded himself by a host of sincere, affectionate, and respecting friends as a result. We find him in charge of his first parish in that beautiful and refined little city, Troy, N. Y. This was in 1843. The church placed under his care was a struggling one. It was heavily involved in debt. But before he left it this encumbrance was removed. Through his efforts the obligations were met and the property saved.
It was here that he formed that close and enduring friendship with the Rev. John Ireland Tucker. It was here that he was brought into close communion with many, afterward prominent in the work to which he had devoted himself. Around the hospitable board of that saintly woman, Mrs. Mary Warren, we find the frequent gathering of these able men. She did much to form a social life unique for its refinement and elevating influence. She afforded great privileges to one on the threshold of his career, and they left their mark. Mr. Fair-bairn and his friend Dr. Tucker were distinguished for their courtesy on all occasions. Their associations, which continually fostered an innate sense of propriety, well explained this reputation. They were distinguished for their intellectual attainments, and the habit of regular daily study continually added to these. They were men of faith, vigorous faith, exemplyfying in their own lives the lessons they taught others. They were not guilty of that incongruity which is at times manifest in the life of a teacher: a lack of the lively faith and the spiritual character and moral culture which he inculcates in the disciple. They were in no sense worldly men; but became broad-minded men, by avoiding the narrowness so frequently complained of and by keeping themselves in contact with the questions and men of the day. They, by studying human nature, were convinced that the ministry was the appointed medium for the moral and spiritual welfare of men. They watched the members of their flock, they prayed with them, and put influences in their way to direct them, dropped the "word in season," encouraged them, consoled them in trouble, administered to them in want, rescued them frorrj temptation, and were at the bedside to point to the dying the only stay of the soul. They were faithful servants of their Master.
It was at this time that Mr. Fairbairn met Miss Juliet Arnold, and to her he was united in Holy Matrimony by his friend Dr. Tucker.
The story of this union, which extended over forty-four years, is one of most tender and loving devotion. It well portrayed the character of the man. The comfort and happiness of his wife were to him the first consideration, and when in later life the cruel hand of disease deprived her of speech, and even power to write, the manifestations of his love increased, if that were possible. He was at her side at early morn, at noonday, and at close of day. The call of duty alone removed him from her. The endearing letter and frequent message would then be sent, and when the final call did come he was bent in an agony of grief. The same sincerity which was manifested to the world at large in all his walks was more than apparent in his family life. His was the tender heart, the unselfish devotion.
Two other parishes received his ministrations, one in the little town of Stillwater and the other in Providence, R. I. His work in each was with success; but his study and reading and the offer of professorship were fast making known to him a more natural fitness for educational rather than for general parish work. It was his desire to combine the two, and very shortly the opportunity presented itself. He became the principal of the Catskill Academy, at Catskill-on-the-Hudson, to which work he devoted himself during a portion of the week, the remainder of the time being occupied with missionary operations in Cairo, some miles distant and in the surrounding country.
For ten years he filled these positions. They involved the expenditure of much strength; but they developed and made known his power as a teacher and man of God.
The regular Sunday trips in the one-horse vehicle over a long and rough country road to the quaint old church among the hills are vivid recollections of my early youth. In the summer months they were very pleasant, leading us through the leafy forest filled with birds. Often did we pause to watch the red-breasted robin, for which I was taught especial veneration, and to gather the violet and the daisy for those at home. There was some sentiment in the mathematician's breast, and there was need for it, as there was little to be found in this particular work. The meeting-house, where assembled the rural flock, was one of those square, cold, barn-like places. It was the rule to place me in the last pew, with the admonition to keep quiet, and I sat and gazed with wonderment at the swallow-nest throne perched half way up on the opposite wall. It was to me the great attraction of the service to see my reverend parent there appear as if by magic. He entered through a private door to which a staircase led from an adjoining room. The robes, the solemnity, and the inexplicable and sudden entrance through the wall, as it were, impressed me greatly.
At times we would go to the neighboring school-houses, situated among the wooded hills near by, where a hearty missionary service would be held. I can recollect the terror caused me on an August Sunday by a command from the pulpit to drive the cows away, as they approached too closely the open window while the sermon was in progress. I wondered why cow-bells were made to torment.
The winter, with its snow-drifts and bitter mountain gales, did not deter this pastoral work. It went on with clock-work regularity. It was a work of love, no incentive but that was offered. The results in after years were to him a great reward. The established parish, with pastor and pretty little church, lives to-day as a monument, or a sequel rather.
I overheard, as children often do, a quiet conversation, not intended for others' ears, which took place between an over-awing Bishop and this faithful missionary. They said much of soul and spirit and human nature generally. They discoursed, with great accord, on the difficulty of close communion with the latter as it was found in these far-off places. Monosyllabic was the word used to describe the prevailing method of parlance between the mountaineers and them. And to-day, when remembrance comes with better understanding, I can scarcely wonder at the timidity thus depicted, nor am I surprised at the greatness of the task as they then pictured it. The gulf of reverence, respect, and veneration which was fixed between them and their flock did not invite familiar conversation. Their lines of thought were widely separated. To cross this gulf was the anxious problem presented. And had the good, plain people heard the conversation and the solicitude expressed with freedom as to their well-being, the gulf would have been crossed. Were it realized by the community at large that the time and the talents and the thoughts of Bishops and Clergy are devoted to them and their interests alone, how close would be the bond between them! They are men with passions and natures like unto our own. We must not, we ought not to look for perfection in their daily life. We look for superiority and we find it, with few exceptions. Their daily study is the holy life, to bring men up to a high standard of virtue and holiness. The world is the better for their work. They are our benefactors and our friends and we should love and cultivate them.
To the instructor of the youth came prominence and high position in the town. He was known as a strict disciplinarian and a profound mathematician. His scholars vowed that he solved problems in his sleep. He acknowledged this experience on one occasion when, having expended much time over an intricate piece of work, he retired in disgust. In the early morning hours, after a troubled sleep, he awoke with the work accomplished and clearly before his mind, and the next day he presented to his astonished class the solution. They had come with brains wearied by the problem, and with the avowal that it was impossible to solve it. He never heard the last of this achievement.
Here lived the eminent artists Cole and Church, who added much sweetness to the life of all. The accomplished daughters and son of the former attended the Academy, and later on the son completed his education at St. Stephen's College when Mr. Fairbairn was in charge. The intimate relations thus established were continued thereafter, and were productive of much delight.
In 1854 the principal and missionary was appointed Chaplain of the Twenty-eighth Regiment in the Twelfth Brigade, Third Division, of the New York Militia, entering on these duties with considerable enthusiasm. He became a hero when, on the occasion of a parade in Kingston, N. Y., he was given a fractious mount. In ascending the steep hill of that town the animal fought for the mastery and attempted to throw his rider, to the consternation and concern of the officers. The determined Scotchman kept his saddle until the animal, wild with rage, rearing, lost his balance and tumbled over backward. Death to the horse and a few bruises to the rider were the results. His influence thereafter was far from small.
We are told of a chance reputation gained for accurate marksmanship. The staff were engaged in cannon practice on the mountainside. The chaplain, urged on by repeated requests, aimed the gun at a mark he was too near-sighted to see. When his effort was announced "the best," the call to a second trial was made. The attempt was never repeated and his record stood in face of laughing protest.
Much more of delightful friends and pleasant experiences in the daily life might be repeated here. They would go to emphasize the character already told. The friend in Troy, Dr. Tucker, had not ceased to watch and correspond with and visit his firm friend. It was through him that, finally, the call to a professorship in a churchly institution came. He was the good spirit who brought the opportunity for the distinguished career which followed.
ON the eastern bank of the Hudson, about one-half mile in a line straight from the river, is an interesting and important institution of learning. It is remote from the centres of activity. Ninety-four miles will about measure its distance from New York City, and fifty that from Albany. It rests among wooded hills and grassy dales. Nature has surrounded it with her most picturesque charms. It stands almost literally alone. Near by an occasional dwelling rears its head among the trees, the humble habitation of farmer or mechanic. With the exception of a small settlement, a half mile distant, so small as scarcely to deserve the name of village, we find few marks of human habitation. There are outlying towns at different points of the compass, five in all. They daily send in their emissaries from the abattoir and other establishments necessary to the well-being of the inner and outer man, and so keep up a semblance, at least, of active communication between this seat of learning and the outer world.
The great natural beauty and healthfulness of the Hudson River Valley, in this immediate vicinity, for years past have attracted the attention of the retired merchant and the man of means as an abiding-place. The names of Bard, Bartlett, Aspinwall, Sands, Crugcr, Barton, are identified--by their bearers' long residence, their extensive manors, each under high cultivation; their lofty character, their generosity--with this rural spot called Annandale, the real nucleus of which is the seat of learning, St. Stephen's College.
Mr. John Bard and his wife, Margaret Johnstone Bard, were the first active agents in the establishment of this institution. They became such by the request of Bishop Wainwright in 1853. He had heard of the benevolence, the philanthropy, the spirituality of these godly people. They had made their home near by on an extensive and highly ornate estate, and had built a beautiful church, a Gothic gem of stone and oak and a parish school-house for the children of the neighborhood. The Rev. George F. Seymour was called to be the Rector, and the name Church of the Holy Innocents was given to the chapel. Mr. Seymour suggested that the chapel might be made the nucleus of a training-school for the ministry, a request for which had been made first by Bishop Wain-wright and afterward by Bishop Horatio Potter, who stated, in an address to the Diocesan Convention of 1856, that it was one of the urgent needs of the Diocese.
We might follow the early history of the institution with interest, but will content ourselves here with a simple reference to its inception and leave the detail for a future note.
At first, there were six scholars under the careful tutelage of that godly man, the Rev. George F. Seymour, now Bishop of Springfield, 111. Mr. Bard was the most liberal patron of the school. The Society for the Promotion of Religion and Learning appears at this early date with a liberal appropriation for the support of the six scholars. Then fell what at the time appeared to be a crushing blow to the institution on the threshold of its existence, the burning of the beautiful chapel.
Its recovery from the disaster was rapid, and interest in its welfare was renewed. Mr. Bard, with more than generosity, rebuilt the beautiful and now historic chapel; and the society, before named, increased its appropriation, and so the history runs. The number of students increased to twelve, although the rectory and janitor's house afforded their only accommodation. The real estate and chapel were conveyed to the institution by Mr. Bard and a charter was obtained by the Hon. John V. L. Pruyn, LL.D., declaring "the Trustees of St. Stephen's College" to be a body corporate. This important undertaking was accomplished in the year 1860. Mr. Seymour was given the title of Warden, the English name for a college head.
Then followed the building of the South wing, in 1861, the resignation of Mr. Seymour and the appointment, in his stead, of the Rev. Dr. Thomas Richey, M.A., now professor in the General Theological Seminary. Mr. John L. Aspinwall, a neighbor of Mr. Bard, a large-hearted Churchman, appears as a generous donor to the college.
We have a very striking picture thus far of what the earnest words and support of a bishop can accomplish in educational work; of what the active parish priest can do as a defender of the Faith; of what means for good the large-hearted layman can make of his wealth, his influence--in short, the talents with which he is endowed.
It was at this period that the subject of our narrative appeared on the field, in the full vigor of manhood, ruddy and round; active and alert in body and mind. H< had a task on hand in the process of moving from his old home, that epoch winch is well calculated to develop the unfortunate characteristics of a man. But well we remember the active part he played in it; to this day we remember his jovial face as he sat in the steam-boat surrounded by his much-beloved wife and four children. After they were all embarked he went on a quiet and anxious search for the old cat, who was finally discovered struggling in a bag on one of the cushioned seats and delivered him into the hands of his son, then six years of age, with the mischievous admonition to keep him quiet--an occupation well calculated to busy both parties.
The promptness and despatch with which this journey was accomplished astonish and amuse me when I think of it. After the night spent in the Catskill house, there were the hurried breakfast; the loading of the wagons with the impedimenta of a fair-sized family; the safe embarking, bag and baggage, on the little steam-boat, where delight was afforded by the carefully prepared lunch in the pretty little cabin, even Tom being allowed a dainty morsel in his unsteady stateroom; the arrival at a little country cot after a tiresome, though interesting, ride of a few miles along a well-built and goodly shaded road; the college in the distance, as we passed along, bringing us all to our feet with the expectancy of youth; the student with mortar-board and gown amused at the childish effervescence and the parental attempt to repress it; the awkward attempts of the good-hearted workmen to transport the piano, six or eight proud of the accomplishment of the task; the final restoration of partial order out of chaos; the jovial spirit infused into the whole proceeding; the family prayer and the retirement to those ancient abominations, corded-beds, which had been fitted together and successfully strung by the mathematical planning of the head of the family, his position during this occupation reminding one of Abraham Lincoln, who, when he was visited by a prominent client just after moving into a new house, appeared coatless, bed-wrench in hand.
The house was small and so were the means. It became necessary to devote part of the space to the work of the professor. A carpenter, with a board partition, solved this problem by fencing off a few feet from a large lower room. In this cold, cheerless, cramped work-shop the professor placed his little library and desk and proceeded to work without a murmur. And an enviable reputation did he immediately carve out for himself, becoming distinguished among his fellows and his pupils as a master of his art. He could teach. He understood his subject thoroughly. He had the rare faculty of being able to impart his knowledge to others. He was on hand promptly to fulfil his duties. He was always found in the chancel at the hour of divine service. He was ever ready to aid the student and give him advice--in other words, he was well equipped; he was enthusiastic, persistent in his work, unselfish. Regularity was a part of his nature; he was a student; he had learned the lesson of self-control. These are the qualities that made him a successful professor and a successful man.
Warden Richey resigned his office in 1863 and Professor Fairbairn succeeded him. The number of students at that time was eighteen. The course of study, as he found it, was such as to prepare a man for entering on the regular theological course as offered at the General Theological Seminary. We shall have to note changes in this particular hereafter, changes inaugurated by the suggestion of the professor and of which he was so uncompromisingly in favor, and which he was so insistent in promulgating, not only here but elsewhere, that he came to be known as their champion.
THE subject of our narrative is now the full-fledged Warden, or College President, on the opening of the academic year in September, 1863. The Rev. George B. Hopson was at this time appointed Professor of Latin and William I. Curry, Tutor. The former was prevented for a time from assuming his position. The latter was on the ocean trying to make port by that doubtful and dilatory method of conveyance, the sailing-vessel.
Here was a problem presented for immediate solution, which might reasonably cause anyone to falter: a college on hand and no one to do the teaching. But the situation was fairly met and accepted, and the Warden proceeded to discharge the duties of the absentees. He taught all the classes. He did it cheerfully and without a murmur. He read the service and performed the duties of a Parish Priest. This condition of affairs continued for several weeks. The class-room duty was difficult enough, but the preparation for it occupied the afternoon and evening, sometimes way into early morning, and the physical man came near giving away under the strain. He spoke often in after years of the joy brought by the arrival of Professor Hopson, another indomitable worker. They joined hands in the work and kept them firmly clasped, and faced this and many other questions until the time for all work ceased with the Warden.
On All Saints' Day, which occurred that year on Sunday, the Warden, who also occupied the position of Pastor of the Church, preached a sermon in which he expressed his deliberate convictions on matters pertaining to the management of the church and College. It may be well to note some of them. They have a bearing on the future conduct of affairs. They may answer some of the inquiries which we have frequently heard concerning them. He said: "The College is recognized by the Convention of the Diocese as a Diocesan Institution. The Diocese has thus become responsible for it. ... Now it appears to me to be very plain that the services of this church ought to correspond with those which are generally recognized in the Diocese. No individual peculiarities ought to be seen here. No usages or customs ought to be permitted which would debar any from officiating in it, or enjoying its services. I am happy to-day to say that I am not conscious of any such custom existing. It is my wish so to conduct the services of this church that no student shall go from this College and exhibit liturgical or other eccentricities, which he will attribute to the teaching he received here. It entirely corresponds with my views to conduct the services as they are generally conducted in this Diocese."
This was the bold and loyal position, couched in unmistakable terms, assumed in the very beginning of his career, and it was maintained until the end without the slightest deviation and at times in the face of bitter factional criticism. His mathematical premise was that prescribed by the Rubric and those in authority in the Diocese, and on it he rested his teaching, preaching, and conduct of affairs. He had grave doubts about a man who accepted public office in the Church or other religious bodies, and then used that office to ventilate views counter to their historic teachings and their prescribed usages. He compared him to one of similar character in the army of the nation and frequently regretted that the court-martial did not appear as a remedy for the ill-used trust. He stated in a letter to the Bishop, published in the seventies, "that a training college for the ministry is a college in which the ministry is the great purpose which is kept before the mind. Its object is just as specific as that of West Point, or a School of Mines, or a Polytechnic School. The army creates an esprit de corps at West Point. No less certainly does the ministry create an esprit de corps at Annandale.
"Again, not only must the religion of a clergyman be above suspicion, but his manners, his bearing, his culture must be that of a high-toned Christian gentleman. Gentleness and quietness ought to characterize his whole life. The noisy, boisterous, obtrusive eccentric clergyman is a public nuisance. He is not an example. He does not attract; he repels. A training college for the ministry ought to do for the Church what West Point has so justly the credit of doing for the army: make gentlemen."
And this was the loyal spirit infused into St. Stephen's boys. This is the spirit which has made them strong and a power in the land. This was the fulfilment of the idea on which the institution was founded, to train young men who were to become the "Stewards of the Mysteries." We shall have occasion to note the growth and prevalence of this sentiment as we accompany the Warden through his successful and faithful stewardship. It was his daily teaching in doctrine that there was no place for the so-called "original investigator," who followed the craze of the day, in the religious domain, and sought the change in Liturgy. All honor was given to the latter in his proper sphere, the scientific.
So much for the religious teaching which was evolved by the weekly pastoral discourse and the daily admonition. A word now as to the educational question.
The advent of the Warden marked the adoption of a regular systematic course of study, extending over tour years, with two years of preparation. It was the same logical basis and mathematical premise here at the foundation of the work that we find in all the Warden's undertakings. He always had a reason for the faith that was in him, and could always state the end in view. He maintained that the education of a clergyman must rest chiefly on classical training; that a theological education without a knowledge of the two learned languages was almost an impossibility. He saw that the demands of the day for a practical college education had so far changed the course in most institutions that this work could hardly be done in any but such as is particularly devoted to this purpose. We find, therefore, the course of study laid out accordingly. First came the classics, then mathematics, then history and literature and modern languages, then moral and metaphysical philosophy. The specimens of mathematics were those of pure logic, such as Geometry and its application to Conic sections and Physics, the study of the latter leading up to the logical training required by a liberally educated man. It was the liberal education aimed at, that which fits a man to take his place for the first time among men and to begin to perform the duties which devolve upon him as a member of the body politic; to render him capable of choosing his profession and of devoting his mind and thoughts to some one line of action. The balancing of the powers of the mind, and the developing of them in relation to each other in such a way that narrowness in any department, calling, or profession would be avoided, was the end kept in view. There was and is no place in such a course for professional education. During the developmental period there is no place for superstructure building. The foundation work, the balancing process of the powers of the mind by language, mathematics, logic, philosophy, literature will occupy the workman in his undertaking. He knows the hard man, the hard views of life which result from exclusive study of the natural sciences by an unbalanced mind, and he will not jeopardize the beauty of his work by such untimely venture. He knows the untoward fate of nations which in the past have educated the general mind to take one view of a subject, and that a peculiar view. With apprehension, we see some such ventures in the modern system of education. "It is at best," as has been well said, "instruction only. There is no training, no thoughtfulness, no inward digestion, no growth in it. It promotes, perhaps, diffusion of knowledge, spreading it very thin; but forms neither students nor men who may deepen the well of truth and fetch back fresh supplies of wisdom." We remember the lament in his latter days of an eminent lawyer and statesman that he had been debarred in his youth from a thorough classical course. He said he was handicapped when he came in contact with men who had been thus equipped. He regarded it as a great drawback in his career that he had been allowed to pursue the so-called elective course of study. And we exclaim with him at the absurdity of allowing a callow stripling to choose his method of mental discipline, and that greater absurdity into which we appear to be drifting, of placing the moral discipline in the students' hands. It must bring to the mind of the skilled educator of the old school the same astonishment as choice or prescription of treatment by the invalid to the skilled physician. We would expect the exit of the first to follow as surely as that of the latter.
"We want to say of the course of study pursued at St. Stephen's that it is admirably adapted to thorough mental and moral cultivation. The positions of distinction occupied by its graduates offer proof of this. In a course of study subsequently followed in two universities and during a score of years of intimate acquaintance with the under-gradu-ates and graduates of many institutions of learning, we have failed to meet evidence of better or more thorough work than that done at Annandale. The intimate relation existing there between the young men and the Faculty, in their studies and in their daily life, beget an enthusiasm which cannot be found in a large university. That enthusiasm was reflected in the results, the greatest of which was well-trained men. We have heard, with indignation and a pang of grief, slighting remarks about this little seminary of learning; we have been amazed at the effrontery of certain heads of colleges and certain public sheets in their attempts to belittle it in the face of defeat of other institutions' best graduates in public literary contests with St. Stephen's boys. We commend to them an example which they may study with profit. We commend to their deliberation the words of a distinguished educator who writes in 1891 to the Warden, "Let me take this occasion to express to you my sincere sympathy with you in your steadfast maintenance of an institution for collegiate training in the true sense of that often misunderstood title. You are captivated neither by University notions, nor by superficial scientific courses, nor by free and easy elective studies that flatter only to betray."
At a meeting of distinguished men, composed of Bishops, Clergy, and Laymen, the Warden was once impelled to an impromptu address. The subject before the house was Liturgical Growth. The expressions used by some speakers on that occasion caused apprehension. They called for an answer, so thought the Warden and some of his friends, and he arose as the spokesman. He began by saying, "I shall probably take a little different view of the question from those who have preceded me. Except in the case of the first speaker, the whole line of thought tonight has been the change of the Liturgy." He then went on to give a history of the Liturgy, what it was and is and how it originated. The historical data, poured forth with great rapidity, astonished his audience and put an end to a discussion which, he showed with telling logic, was very vague. That the great Liturgical idea ought to be that of unity, that of history, he maintained. And he asked, with great earnestness, what other explanation could be given of the similarity of the four great Liturgies, used in four different churches so widely separated as they, than that they came from the Apostles, who settled what the Liturgy should be before they were dispersed. To talk of our prayers or exhortations or other matters, and leave out the four Liturgies, was unworthy of the name Liturgical Discussion. And if change in the Liturgy was proposed such change must be made as in the Primitive Church, to set forward more clearly, more emphatically, more without doubt, that great idea of Christ's sacrifice for the sins of the world and the commemoration of it by the Church before the Father. His words were received with great favor. They illustrated his exact method of thought and his loyalty to the principles he had undertaken to defend. On another similar occasion we find him addressing the assembly in defence of the Prayer-book, the Bishops--the Princes of the Church, as he called them--and his Alma Mater, the General Theological Seminary. They had all come in for their share of criticism in the warm discussion which had preceded. He exclaimed, that one would be inclined to think from what he had heard that the defects which had been depicted were characteristics. It was the tendency, at times, for a pessimistic view to predominate with regard to a subject in hand. He then went on to show that the defects which had been dwelt on were really only imperfections which detracted very little from the character of the subjects named, and so proceeded his masterly defence. He reminded them that the institution of learning in question had demonstrated its ability to do the best work, by sending out into the world sixteen or more bishops and a large portion of the clergy whom they so respected and loved. These latter had shown that they could meet the questions of the day and could sympathize with every human want. He then took up the subject of general education and argued that the divinity student, as the seeker after knowledge in the other professional departments, should first receive a thorough intellectual development and training, and that this was a very necessary preliminary measure, as the lamentable failures without it often proved.
The results of his labors as Warden and as a Christian educator were very gratifying to the Bishop, the prominent Clergy and Laymen of the Church and his associates in the College. They united to give expression to their gratitude at a Commencement dinner. They overwhelmed him by addresses of commendation signed by the Faculty, Trustees, and many others; and, not satisfied with this, they heaped upon him rich and bountiful gifts. All this served to make him more zealous. He never lost sight of the welfare of the work entrusted to him.
We hear much to-day about the "swelled head." The ancients described this condition by various expressions. It is a disease which has existed from time immemorial. The causes conducive to it are extraordinary success and, at times, the too free acknowledgment of the same. But, like other causes, they do not always produce the same results. As a seed they must have the proper soil to grow in in order to flourish. The causes under consideration, brought to bear on a mind not well balanced, schooled to a narrow view of life, produce an inordinate estimate of self--the "swelling" of the latter to such an extent as to blot out all else. Examples of the truth of this statement are numerous. The blighting of the promising plant, when it has attained great beauty, by too lavish care is not a thing unknown. We have no such story to tell here. The success and its universal praise, served only to point out to this modest worker that much more remained to be done. He perceived his own imperfections and the incompleteness of the work, and he labored on, encouraged by what had happened. His estimate of himself was that he was simply a part of the means which were to be employed. He was unobtrusive. He had the simplicity of a child. He was earnest and whole souled.
The students of the College were not long in discovering these qualities, and were closely drawn to him. That he held their sincere affection, their numerous testimonials bear witness. We are told that an unkind word about the Warden was rarely heard even in their private conversation.
The Alumni visited him frequently and sent him many letters expressive of gratitude for his care, and well they might, for he watched them as a father watches his sons. Their success was to him a cause of joy.
The royal token, the beautiful loving-cup, which they united to present to him in his latter days was the offering from loving hearts to a heart of love. It will be cherished and preserved as a most blessed possession.
WHAT is this we see, this winter's afternoon: the crowd of farm-wagons, the vehicles peculiar to a country town; in the distance a hearse with its contents undisturbed; the farmer, the workman, the tavern-lounger in his best attire, all gathered around the pretty little College Chapel? Certainly, it is a very large and very mixed gathering for this place. "Tell us, friend," we ask an honest plodder of the soil, "what means this gathering at midday?" "Funeral," is the characteristic answer. "But tell us, why has not the coffin been removed? Why are they not preparing to take it into the church? Surely something must be strange." "Yer right; the old teller in yonder box killed himself, he took pizen; and they tell us that this church has no service for such poor critters. We come to our dear old friend Dr. Fairbairn, and he told us to bring to him the livin' and he would pray with 'em, and preach to 'em, and do as he's always ready to do, try to console 'em. He's a regular, all the same, he's loyal to his Church, and he tells us to leave any of the fixin's about that 'ere body out of the question as far as this here church is concerned. We are here to see and pray with our friend; here he comes, the dear old man!"
Our conversation was cut short by the appearance of the Warden, and as he passed along to the vestry in cap and gown we were struck by his scholastic air. All hats were lifted, and in return was the dignified bow and earnest greeting. The bond of sympathy between pastor and assemblage was at once apparent and as the bell tolled its solemn notes the crowd entered the sacred edifice and we among them, attracted by the peculiarities of the occasion. The faithful students were there; the organist was on hand; the Warden had kept his promise and was prepared to offer religious consolation suitable to the case. There was a simple, hearty service. There were the chanted psalm by male choir and the old-fashioned hymn with its familiar tune, which all with one accord sang. There were the appropriate prayers and chapter from the New Testament, read with becoming impressiveness and striking correctness and emphasis. There was a pause; the Warden came to the chancel steps and stood for a moment. His silence, his look of earnestness were eloquent. He was about to utter God's message to some wayward beings who rarely, if ever, afforded him that opportunity. This day they were willing listeners. They had asked for some comforting word and they knew it would be forthcoming. "Faith" is the subject announced in emphatic voice and with eloquent and characteristic projection of the head. "Probably no word which is peculiar to the Christian religion conveys a less definite notion than this word 'Faith,'" are the first words of the preacher. And so he proceeded, in a simple and direct manner, to discourse on a subject deep and abstract in fact, but so clearly that his audience followed him with attentive and thankful hearts. We lost sight of the sorrow of the occasion. We joined with the preacher in our praises to Almighty God that He had vouchsafed to us His Beloved Son. And as we moved among the retiring band, we silently joined in the expression heard from many a tongue, that it was a lesson of Faith from a man of faith. Such was his position among the commoners. It was more. The petition signed for public action was brought to him first, with the surety that his name would be followed by almost unanimous approval. He was not only the man of Faith, but the man of Action. His daily life was to these people the same earnest lesson as his pastoral discourse and weekly teaching.
There dwelt near by him, in the midst of a well-tilled farm, a gentleman, a man of character, benevolence, and kindly nature. He was the Warden's landlord, and he was his admiring friend. His nature shone forth in his handsome visage. His towering and powerful frame depicted the sturdy man of affairs. There sprang up between these neighbors a steadfast friendship, and that friendship was bound the closer by ties which developed, as years ran along, between their respective families. The sons, of an age, played together, went to school and college and church together, and after their paths were separated for a time during their professional studies, they settled in the same city and there reared their families. Not a cloud or shadow has ever darkened their companionship and they, as their lathers, still cherish an abiding affection for one another. We note this circumstance with the joyous tear. We note the debt of gratitude we owe this noble man, John N. Lewis, Esq., and his accomplished wife and manly sons, for the sunshine they have spread about the Warden's path and that of his family. No opportunity was lost by these good friends to further his welfare and to give public expression to an affection which was and is firm and true.
And what shall we say of the loving friendship of Mr. and Mrs. John Bard and Mr. and Mrs. J. L. Aspinwall and Mr. and Mrs. E. Bartlett and Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Sands and the Misses Hunt and Dr. Hunt and his family and Mr. and Mrs. John Cruger and after them Colonel Cruger and his sisters and a host of others of whom time forbids mention? They received the Warden into their confidence; they feasted him; they loaded him down with generous gifts; they bowed to him as their spiritual and, at times, temporal adviser in important matters. In public discourse the Warden described this social life as distinguished for its propriety, its purity and its elevating influence. It drew together many, many persons whom it was a privilege to meet. The General, the Statesman, the distinguished Divine, the Barrister, the Man of Letters might all be named, and what a celebrated coterie it would make!
We well remember the day when we gathered together, the whole community, young and old, in the College grove to do honor to Stephen Van Rensselaer Cruger, then a youth of tender years. We gave him a beautiful sword; we gave him a hearty Godspeed on his mission to the Civil War in behalf of our country. We well remember how we watched him; read line by line and word for word his deeds of great bravery. We remember also the shock of grief when he was returned to us severely wounded, and we note the joy and pride at his final recovery and departure for the front. Thereafter nothing but the news of heroism, great heroism and honor, came from him. A sturdy character and an accomplished gentleman, a brave soldier, a devout Christian, he served his country and his God. As a Trustee of the College, as Treasurer of that institution, as its unfailing friend and the cordial friend of the Warden, he departed this life with an enviable record, enviable for its distinction and its purity.
As we recall the unwritten history of Annandale, we are overwhelmed with the memory of the host of great men which crowds upon us. They were truly great. They were Christian men and men of character. We must pause for one word about that saintly man, Mr. Joseph Harrod. The Warden's eulogium on him is the true description. "You see in him," he said, "a picture of old age which certainly excels anything that you read in Cicero of the old age of eminent Romans. In this case it was the grace of redemption; in them it was only the natural amiableness or determined will. His life was characterized by the purity, the temperance, the fortitude, and the hope of the Gospel. Blessed be God for the good example of His servant! "
Annandale is a healthful place. Very little sickness is found within its limits. It occurs at times, and the necessity arises to send to the neighboring town for the physician. The College doctor was a famous old character who resided in a dainty little cottage in the town of Upper Red Hook. We call him famous, for so he was--from the distinguished services he had rendered to men of note and the graduates who have scattered all over the land. They carried his fame abroad as a man of remarkable judgment and diagnostic, acumen. He was always quiet, deliberate, jovial, and tender as a woman in his kindly ministrations. The Warden had great faith in him, and that implied merit and fitness and reliability.
The practice of medicine is well suited to round up a man's nature. The daily communion with the sweetness of the family life begets, as a rule, the tender heart and sympathetic spirit. The family doctor associates with the best of life, the affectionate mother and her tender, loving flock. He sees love displayed in its most pleasing form. He sees the sacrifices of comfort and means that it calls forth. This is his daily, you may say almost hourly, experience. And such sunshine spreads its radiance over his nature and in turn nurtures the growth of similar qualities. There is no more delightful, no better man than the medical practitioner, seasoned by age and experience.
And such was our College friend, Dr. John E. Losee. And what a life of toil he must have led in that little buckboard and country sleigh! The sleepless night invited slumber often on the weary journey, which the faithful horse made safe with watchful tread. The keen wintry blasts caused quadruplication of the ordinary great-coat. Often have we seen him occupy some minutes as he gradually wormed his way out of this enormous supply of covering. But it was always the same comforting, smiling face that greeted us, though worn with many a care and broken rest. He it was who ministered to the Warden's little ones. He and his skilful son Edwin were they who watched the beloved wife in her years of painful illness. They brought all the material comfort that can come from such a source, and they gently closed the eyelids of daughter and wife in their final sleep. The remembrance of their skill, their gentleness, their manly support, sank deeply into the Warden's heart and, as he approached his end in a distant city, he spoke of these good men and longed to see them once again.
Farewell for the time to these good friends! Let us wend our way across the velvet campus to a palatial dwelling. It is a massive structure, square and low. It is builded of stone, with walls of great thickness. There juts out in bold relief a stately porte cochere, and one wonders, as he looks on this stately mass, arched on various sides, what prevents its fall. But what is this stone carved with inscription in the northwest corner? Surely it is a unique adornment for a dwelling-house. It is a corner-stone which was laid with pomp and ceremony, we are told, some thirty years ago. It is the cornerstone of the Warden's residence, a memorial gift to St. Stephen's College by two saintly women, Miss Ludlow and her sister, Mrs. Willink; and on the stony arch which surmounts the main entrance we find inscribed, by carver's chisel, "Ludlow and Willink Hall." Let us step within; we are beckoned to, though strangers, by a cordial personage attired in silken gown, with college cap in hand and suggestive volume beneath his arm. We call him Reverend and we call him Professor--the marks of both are on his striking face. At ease immediately, we pass within the open entrance-hall. We are told that its material was gathered from the donors' estate; there are the polished floor, the high wainscoting, the screen of lofty arches supported by the grape and acorn and oak-leaf-capped pillars, the panelled ceilings with great oaken beams, which show the touch of the artist's hand, as the main supports. Through arched way, guarded by heavy doors, we pass into the Memorial Hall. Its wall is decked on the southerly end by a rounded window in which is the College seal in colored glass. Between the brackets which support the ceiling-beams are coats-of-arms of prominent families. An oaken gem of the carver's art surmounts the hearth. The portraits of benefactors deck the walls. We exclaim, "It is a reproduction of the old architectural spirit!" We are told it is for public reception and executive work of Trustees. A massive staircase of solid oak leads us, with our attentive guide, to top of house. Our astonishment, expressed at extent of room, is answered by the statement, "It is open house all the year round for the welcome guest, whene'er he come." No hotel, no resting-place for the transient, until of late, has here been found. And so it fell to the Warden and his good wife, and after her to his untiring daughter Alice, to play the part of genial host and hostess for this ever-appearing and numerous band. And many are the mothers who will bear witness that this means much in a country clime. They came from far and near. They came from foreign lands. They came at times for ecclesiastic ordeal--applicants to the good Bishops for reception into the Protestant Episcopal Church from other lines of belief; and we are mindful this clay of doctrinal debate carried on nightly, at times to fever heat; and we bear witness to beneficial results arrived at from these many wanderings through various creeds.
The Warden, with rapid step, leads us through the stony portal while he says, "Gentlemen, I am at leisure for a time and you must go with me to yonder library." He tells us, as we wend our way along the broad and level gravel path, that this was once rough rock, so high as to obscure Aspinwull Hall here on our right, and Preston Hall near by. There was a rocky mound, rough and high on yonder hill below, which with its velvet lawn now helps to form the campus. "With theodolite I laid out the work, and the local laborer, with powder, drill, and chisel, made this broad plateau. You see upon it rest the four sections of the South wing, two named Hoffman Hall, the gift of the Rev. C. F. Hoffman, and the two others called H. Potter and McVickar Hall. The fine stone of which they are made came from the opposite bank of the Hudson, and the trimmings are sandstone from Ohio. Back of these lies a wooden structure, and in it also are students' apartments and rooms for lecture purposes."
As we continue on our way, the Warden tells us of the benevolence of the late Rev. Dr. Francis Vinton, a very distinguished divine, a rector of Grace Church, Brooklyn, and then clergyman in charge of Trinity Church, New York. He it was who directed Mrs. Willink's and Miss Ludlow's generous hearts to St. Stephen's. The Rev. Dr. C. F. Hoffman comes in for tender mention and eloquent eulogium. This generous scholar and loving friend and faithful brother, the Warden tells us, poured great bounty upon the God-like work. "He built us buildings; he endowed professorships; he aided students and many others; he built this library, magnificent in proportions and architecture, and materials made proof against that dreaded enemy, fire, and, to complete the work, established and endowed a lectureship on libraries." And as we stood within this beautiful temple of learning, in appearance like unto the Parthenon, with its inner walls lined with gifts to the world by men of lore, we joined with our host in praises to Almighty God that He had given us such examples. And we thought that no better place existed for those to seek whose life had been made up of self-interest. The royal temple gift, its learned tenants, its peacefulness, its every quality stood a grand emblem of the Christian life, and as we looked through its open portals we spied, near by, a little round, red, globe-roofed structure perched upon an open hill. It was a peaceful companion where the nightly pilgrim studied the heavenly vault above. John Campbell, Esq., in the goodness of his heart, had placed this gift of value. In its work, in its perfect detail, in its end serene, it stood an appropriate partner.
There is unusual life about the College this afternoon; the flags are flying, there are many visitors, and fair ones are to be seen on all sides. They are decked with ribbons, some with blue and some with crimson. The Warden, after his courteous talk with his guest, has slipped away. Let us follow him. He surely must be in touch with this gala day. Ah! here he is in his study, busily cleaning an aged telescope and putting an extra polish on a little glass, irreverently called by the boys the Warden's "fifth eye," as it comes frequently from the waistcoat pocket to aid the spectacles in their active work. "You perceive," he says, "that I am preparing to watch the sport. The young gentlemen row their annual boat-race this afternoon. I have chosen a spot on a grassy cliff half way between the starting-point and the stake-boat, and there hope to have a field unobstructed by the trees. These lenses will make the whole course plain. Yonder cove, fenced off by the railroad, which wends its way along the Hudson's eastern bank, is the sheet of water used here for sport. My special interest in this day's contest is due to the presence of a family representative, who has the important duty assigned to him of guarding the tiller-ropes of one of the racers. I am particularly interested in the stake-boat turn. That will test his grit." So the good old gentleman, with tripod, glass, and cane, quietly passed down a hidden path to his chosen place.
We can see him now, as he hurried along with perspiring brow and panting breath, caused by his unwieldy burden. But the spot was reached, the observation made, the adjustments fixed and the pallid faces of the waiting crews were carefully scanned. He murmurs to himself, "It is dangerous sport; it strains too much." The gun's first shot re-echoes through the hills, the faithful glass is fixed on the forms outstretched for the first stroke. In the middle of the glass's field is the anxious face of the beardless youth. Lucky for him and lucky for his victorious crew that he knew it not! There is another puff of smoke, and the earnest work begins before the second echo reaches the Warden's ear. The struggle to the stake-boat is sharp and close and quickly over. With even prows they reach this half-way goal, and there the telescope with searching eye awaits results. The Warden's hat is off, and he gives a loud hurrah as his son's boat rounds the telling point and sets the pace. But what has happened? The ugly ivy vine has caught his foot and overthrown him. In his struggles to regain himself, the tripod and his inquisitive glass have shared his fate. While the first boat around the stake has made her victory sure by half a length, the tripod, glass, and watcher have had a sorrowing search for one another. But they came together, and the Warden won and hastened steps at sound of Chapel bell. It was many a day before the escapade and disappointment were made known, and this was brought about by the fifth eye's journey in a finder's pocket back to its former resting-place.
ALTHOUGH the Warden acted in many capacities in his work at Annandale, he found time to read, to study, to think, and record his thoughts for the world outside. We cannot understand how he did it. No one understands it. He acted the part of pastor, professor, warden, steward, bookkeeper, banker, overseer of janitor and farm--in which latter capacity we hear many a joke at his expense--and to cap the climax, postmaster! That he did these all well we find frequent acknowledgment by the Board of Trustees. We quote the following paragraph from many similar documents: "It is difficult for us to find words wherewith to express our sense of the judgment, patience, kindness, energy, perseverance, and self-devotion with which you have conducted the instruction, discipline, and general business of the College. We return you our warmest thanks," etc.
He was a systematic worker. He had a well-balanced mind. He stood a good example of the method of education which he advocated.
A rapid review of some of his literary work will be instructive and, perchance, of interest. Even this is no easy task. We submit it with the apology that it is gathered not only from a close and careful study of the matter in hand, but from frequent dissertations arising during a companionship which extended over many years, and which to denominate intimate would be to use a very mild term.
We take up his essays first. We have many of them. They were read before organizations and societies devoted to various lines of thought. Their subjects are striking. They deal with the questions of the day, and are therefore of interest. The Warden never wrote for amusement. He was never guilty of twaddle. His great characteristics were earnestness and intensity of feeling, and all his writings reflect such characteristics. His audience learned that when he undertook to speak it was to tell them something. He gained the attentive listener. On one occasion, when he was about to deliver an address before an assemblage of distinguished men, I was moving among them as they entered the hall. I heard it remarked, by a man of judicial and learned mien, to his companions, "We will now hear some logic." That was the second characteristic, logical arrangement of thought, which was expressed in short and forcible form. The third characteristic was the statement of the conclusion. There was never any doubt in the listener's or reader's mind as to the lesson enforced.
He was a very rapid writer and thinker. First he gathered together his ammunition and thoroughly digested it. The subsequent process of preparation of the charge and its delivery to the mark were accomplished with the ease of an adept in the art. His frequent admonition to the student's mind was: first your study and preparation and formation of clear views; then the expression of them. We might multiply examples of what we have said. We can attempt it in a few striking instances only.
"The Elisions to be Observed in Reading Latin Poetry", is the title of an essay read before the University Regents' Convocation at Albany. It was written in answer to a footnote in a Latin Grammar, viz.: "It is generally supposed that the final letters elided by synalcepha and ecthlipsis, though omitted in scanning, were pronounced in reading verse." This general opinion, stated by the Grammarian without adducing any statement of the ancients to sustain the opinion, aroused the logical mind. There was a tinge of Scotch wrath added by a student in the declamation-room, who cited the note in question in support of his omission to make the elisions in a Latin verse he had just repeated. After ominous silence of some minutes, heightened by the familiar reddening of the Warden's brow, "Such opinion is a fair subject for an investigation," is announced with emphatic voice.
In due time the investigation came, and in fitting place the result was read. A perfect avalanche of testimony, gathered from English, Greek, Latin, French, German, Italian and Spanish verse, was produced in support of the argument that the custom suggested by the note would be barbarous. With great applause and commendation and agreement the learned audience greeted the climax to this severe analysis, when with closed manuscript and determined look the author said, "I think I can venture to say that had Boswell read to him from the grammar in question that the final letters, 'omitted in scanning were pronounced in reading,' Johnson would immediately have given up the ghost and expired in disgust."
Judge Hale, on that occasion, in the discussion which followed, after loving words for the masterly exhibition of the logician's skill, expressed his amazement at the depth of research and the breadth of knowledge called forth by what would appear, to the casual reader, a commonplace remark.
We take up next an essay which received distinguished consideration at the hands of the Dutchess County Convocation, and later the American Institute of Christian Philosophy. "A Logical Definition of Christianity" is the subject. We agree with the letter from an eminent Divine and Educator which we find hidden among its leaves, placed therein some years ago by loving hands. He writes, "It is great, it is clear, it is an important contribution to the Christian religion. It should be distributed far and wide." In this essay, after noting that the study of comparative religions has been prosecuted with great vigor in late years, he remarks on the attempt made to identify them: to show that essentially they have a common origin. He maintains that such an attempt has arisen as a natural result of dwelling on the points of likeness, and laying them side by side. It is to meet this tendency, it is to give Christianity its individual place, it is to put before the mind without a shade of doubt what distinguishes Christianity from all other religions, that this logical definition is undertaken.
There can be no possible question in the reader's mind as to the difference between Christianity and Brahmanism, and Buddhism or many other isms, after the perusal of the facts collated here. He very quickly sees that the former religions are really not religions at all, but only moral systems. No Deity, no Creator, no Governor, no Providence is held up by them. They are the merest systems of Atheism. Again the reader sees that man's moral nature, with all the great virtues which stand out as cardinal, had their existence from the very beginning. They came out of the constitution which God gave man. They are not the results of Christianity. When people talk of Christian ethics and Christian morality they use unfair expressions--they imply that the system of moral life is the offspring of Christianity, and hence arises the error so often made: to mistake it for Christianity itself. And so we are brought to the definition, to the statement of its essential characteristics, those which separate it from all other things. He defines Christianity as a species of the genus religion with the differentia, that which separates it from all other things, that Jesus Christ is the incarnate Son of God, the Redeemer of the world, and the Source of grace, with the property, in common with other religions, that it presents a perfect morality, while the manner of its rendering homage to God is an accident. If then we find, as we often do to-day, persons so captivated by the beautiful morality of Buddhism or Confucianism as to ask us what then distinguishes Christianity from other religions, we can answer: that our Founder is God; that He redeemed us and that He ever lives to sanctify us. We can say, with great certainty, that these are the two acts of Christ which make our religion, and make it to differ from every other religion. Redemption and grace by Jesus Christ the Son of God are the essence of Christianity, and the other isms are as far removed from it us the opposite poles of the earth are removed from one another.
The Church in this and other countries would do well to adopt such most certain language in place of those indefinite expressions with regard to the "Fatherhood" of God and the moral life so often heard.
We find an essay on "The Law of Labor and Capital." It was read before the American Institute of Christian Philosophy.
Beginning with the statement that he had come prepared simply to express his opinions on the subject, he proceeds to argue the question. The sentiments and opinions elicited by the Senate Committee in 1883 and those gathered from his intercourse with men and books are made the basis of his argument. The position of the laborer of to-day is described as far superior to that in any earlier period, because he has a larger share of the comforts of life, and, being more intelligent, is more capable of enjoying them. The moral and mechanical forces which are in operation to-day have brought the world more to a level, he tells us, and the workman is recognized as an independent man, who has dignity and an importance in society. Having defined the workman's position in society, he proceeds to state with great clearness that all its operations are according to law. The degradations of poverty, accumulation of wealth, trade in its supply and demand, labor and capital in their various relations, inheritance of wealth, the enjoyment of health, are all governed by certain fixed principles which must be recognized. The evils of society result from the violation of such principles. The underlying one is that each one shall have his own. That is the definition of justice in civil law. The Institutes of Justinian, the Roman Law, set out with this proposition.
Opposed to this is communism, with its attempt to take from individuals what they have acquired, and to distribute it to all members of the State. The criticism he makes is, that it is a tax on brain, on justice, on integrity, on skill, on faith, and on courage; and it is a reward for dulness, sluggishness, and laziness.
He sums up as follows: "If we could all learn the simple but great principle of doing justice, of allowing each one his own; and if each one would make a just use of his own, it would temper and balance society, and it would then move on harmoniously and peacefully." It is another specimen of fine philosophical work. It deals with those fundamental principles which must underlie and regulate all our relations, and which must make our civilization.
The next essay is one on "Education in Small Colleges." It was read before the University Convocation of New York State. It was printed in pamphlet form, and favorably received here and abroad. The reviews on both sides of the ocean were very gratifying. We take the liberty of producing one in full.
"It is one of the best things we have received in a long time. It is not only a masterly defence of the old curriculum, the Literae Humaniores, the liberal culture which is the proper work of a college, but it brings out in strong relief the real distinction between that work and the work of a University, which is, or should be, to take men who have had their faculties already educated in a us college, and give them the instruction or information necessary for entrance upon any special profession of life. The College simply aims at mental discipline, and for that nothing has been found better than the old course of Latin, Greek, and Mathematics. The boys who have had this can afterward apply themselves to any special subject, and rapidly distance all competitors who have not had the advantage of the liberal course. Dr. Fairbairn shows that this academic work, as distinguished from University specialties, can be actually better done in small colleges than in large ones, and at less cost of teaching; that is, if you go above twenty-five in a class, you ought really to double everything but your President and Chapel. We are satisfied there is a good deal in this view of the matter. At any rate, with all our small colleges, the number is not so large in proportion to the population, to say nothing of territory, as that of the Gymnasia of Germany or the Lycées of France, which cover the same ground to the degree of B.A. Our Universities in this country ought to have nothing to do with the under-graduate course. It is one thing to offer students the opportunity 'to acquire all knowledge on any subject,' and quite a different thing to give a boy's mind that preparatory training which is necessary, if not to his acquiring knowledge at all, yet to make his knowledge of any use to him after it is acquired. Like Daniel Webster, we are partial to the small college."
In 1886 his first book was published, a volume of sermons which had been preached in the College Chapel. He had the comfort to see it well received by reviewer and reader and reprinted abroad.
In 1887 he published a volume on the "Doctrine of Morality in its Relation to the Grace of Redemption." We see here the importance of thorough knowledge of man's moral nature. We are shown that the latter is commensurate with man's existence. The great heathen philosophers in their study of man made up a system of morality which is found in the perfect Christian life to-day. It could not be otherwise, for the system of virtues which it contains arises from the relation and connections which one man has with another. He shows that although these systems and their authors could depict the perfect moral life, they were unable to give the power and the strength to enact it. The Greek and the, Roman gathered from Aristotle and Cicero the knowledge of morality such as is looked for in the Christian community. But their lives did not correspond with their knowledge. To bring this correspondence about there was and is the need of a supernatural power, and that power proceeds alone from Christian Redemption and Christian Grace.
This book was received with marked favor both at home and in foreign lands, and is the text-book used in the class-room of a number of institutions of learning.
In 1894 his work on the Oblation and the Invocation was issued. It treats of the Oblation as found in the Roman Liturgy, and also in the Greek or Holy Eastern. The primitive liturgies, the writings of the great Anglican Theologians on this subject, and the opinions of the foreign reformers are set forth. It is a valuable history of the greatest of religious rites, and is the only American book on the subject. It is a clear exposition of the doctrines as they have come from the early Church, separating the additions which have been made by the opinions and metaphysical excursions of the theological mind. The three acts, Institution, Oblation, and Invocation, are pointed out in each Liturgy, used in every part of the civilized world, in every part of the Roman Empire, and in the provinces beyond. The conclusion that the Liturgy, and especially the nucleus of the Liturgy, came from one source seems irresistible. Great will the comfort be that it will bring to the believer's heart. This mass of testimony it will be difficult, if not impossible, for the skeptic to controvert. I regard it as the best specimen of ecclesiastic evidence in my possession.
The reviewer treated it as if intended for students of theology and the clergy chiefly. While in part correct, he erred in expression of such opinion, and no doubt deterred the general reader and many a devout Christian from studying a book which is within the comprehension of all and a weapon against infidelity. It was pronounced a scholarly and exhaustive monograph.
In 1894 the call came to him to deliver the Bishop Paddock lectures. The Paddock Lectureship was endowed for the purpose of presenting to the world yearly a defence of the religion of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Holy Bible and illustrated in the book of Common Prayer, against the varying errors of the day.
The Warden was now in the seventy-seventh year of his age, and for the first time began to show the effects of the labor of his active career. The physical man was bending under undue strain, hut the active brain still worked with its old-time precision, and the welcome task of defence of the Faith was undertaken. "The Unity of the Faith" was the subject chosen, and was dealt with in six lectures, occupying one hour each. One has said that the reader of them "feels moved to envy of the happy lot that has fallen to the 'General' seminarians in this day. We cannot fail to see how well equipped by lifelong studies Dr. Fairbairn came to his appointed task in the ripeness of a scholar's age; with what abundant learning well considered and a master's orderly grasp for his subject."
The preparation for these lectures, the six weary trips to the city, the physical exertion of delivering discourses of an hour each, the subsequent preparation of them for the press--which latter task was performed in the minutest detail, even to the making of the exhaustive index--left their mark upon this faithful servant's frame. It was a great effort, and it stands a monument to indomitable courage. That the doubt of sufficient physical strength existed is witnessed by the fact of the requested presence at the lectures of one near to him. It proved a fitting climax to the veteran, we might almost say patriarchal, life.
We have not touched upon the penned record of this active mind. We have simply given glimpses of vo1umed mass.
We leave this with our reader, that he may judge an unselfish career.
Bishop Littlejohn, Bishop Horatio Potter, and after him Bishop Henry C. Potter, were always prompt and profuse with their words of encouragement and thanks for these scholarly offerings to the literature of the Church. We find carefully preserved among his papers these words of commendation, so dear to him and his. They were a great spur to his active mind and busy pen, and made his heart happy.
The Society of Science, Letters, and Art of London, England, elected him an Honorary Fellow, and conferred on him a gold medal in consideration of his "high literary and scientific merit." We note also, in their Journal, that "A thoughtful and interesting paper on 'The True Idea of a University,' by Dr. Fairbairn, President St. Stephen's, Annandale, N. Y., was received with marked appreciation at the November meeting, 1887."
He was elected a Fellow of the Victoria Institute or Philosophical Society of Great Britain and other foreign societies.
The degree of D.D. was conferred on him several times. He received an LL.D. also.
When the Board of Regents at Albany celebrated their Centennial, the Chancellor wrote and urged his presence. He said, among other things, "It seems hardly necessary to address you personally and urge your attendance, for to me the Convocation means you, so loyal and devoted have you ever been. We not only want your aid in arranging, but in inspiring us, as you always do."
John V. L. Pruyn, Esq., was first instrumental in introducing him to this board. He, moreover, entertained him frequently in his beautiful residence on Elk Street, Albany. The numbers of distinguished divines, lawyers, judges, statesmen, and educators here brought together have rendered it historic. Mr. and Mrs. Pruyn and their son did much to further the Warden's distinguished career. They did more: they entwined about it a delightful friendship. They made him happy in his early days, and to his later they added sweetness.
THE Warden's stall in the College Chapel has been vacant on numerous occasions during the past three years. That never occurred before. He was always in his place at morning and evening service in years gone by. But there have been days in succession, of late, that we have missed his familiar form. The weight of years is telling on him, they inform us. His step is not so steady nor his form so erect as it used to be. There was a period during the summer months when acute disorder of serious import confined him to his room. It continued throughout the long vacation. The faithful family doctor with the aid of skilled consultants returned him to his former work. But he never was himself again. He struggled bravely, though warned to rest by all, to continue his active life; and so he did for weeks and months, until the inevitable forced itself upon him. It was his wish to die in harness. For him inactivity had no charms. It had its horrors.
The scenes which preceded the retirement are full of pathos. It was the severing of the congenial relations of life. But the situation was bravely met, and in a few weeks after we find him apparently happy in his new home.
Dr. Hopson, his helper, his steadfast friend, his comforter and supporter, was ever on hand, as he had been for the past thirty-five years, to uphold him in his trial. The Warden often said, "He is the man on whom I can always depend." And such is the eulogy of all on this good and learned man. Happy are the youth who fall under his influence The habits of study and daily life which they must learn from him will be a blessed possession.
And there was another affectionate and self-sacrificing and learned brother who had been his ever-present aid. We refer to Professor Anthony, whose ministrations had been active for many a month. He had been on hand in term-time and vacation, at early morn and late at night, to share the many duties which pressed upon him. Had it not been for him the work must have ceased some time before. When we say he was as a son we speak not too strongly.
Of the kindly acts of that man of erudition, Dr. Olssen, and his other co-adjutors, we might speak at length. They sorrowed to see him go, and so they showed by their many offices. The community around about, with the pious priest, Father Cronin, came to bid Godspeed to the faithful servant, and he departed sorrowing that he would see them no more.
But we must look upon him in his new home. He settled in Brooklyn, in a pretty little abode near by his loved ones. He made it his first duty, day by day, to visit his grandchildren who gathered about his loving breast, and it was their pleasure in return stealthily to seek his entertaining company. The happiness that these visits caused was mutual, and an ever-present theme.
As we study the life of the Warden in his retirement, we find the activity, the studious habits, the regularity in his Sunday duties, the eagerness to be of service to his fellow-men that we saw in his former life. On one occasion he read the service twice, preached two sermons, and administered Holy Communion. He referred to it afterward as more work than he had done on a single Sunday for twenty-five years, and they say he did it well. We might tell of the influence he had for good on the lives of others in these few months. The testimony comes of the turning of the wayward to the religious life through him. He illustrated the power of the life of Faith.
His fellow-clergy honored him by election to their organizations, and his pastor, the Rev. Andrew F. Underbill, was the constant companion and tender guide to their meetings.
Among his papers we find an address delivered before them, his final effort in this line. He evinced in it the same intense interest in his chosen work that he had from the beginning of his ministry.
He was preparing himself by careful study for a work on Moral Theology, whea the final call came and he left to the world, instead, a character which well illustrated the subject he had in hand. That character came not from nature, it came not from culture, it came not from education, though all three elements had contributed their share to its formation. It came from the supernatural work of God in the human heart. That was the origin of his guilelessness, his faith, his devotion, his communion with all that was good and lovely in the human character, his purity as seen in his gentleness and quietness, his benevolence and unselfishness. They showed forth the power of the faith and the grace of the Gospel.
The study of such a character is a stimulus. It teaches us that Religion is no bondage, no slavery; but that which bringeth joy to the heart and peace to the daily life.
The Trustees of St. Stephen's College prepared for him the following beautiful acknowledgment of his services to the Church and the College. It is a generous and delightful benediction and appropriate ending for this brief narrative:
"The Trustees of St. Stephen's College, in accepting the resignation of the Rev. Robert B. Fairbairn, D.D., LL.D., Warden of this institution of learning for a period of more than thirty years, desire to make grateful mention of his distinguished services, his devotion and self-sacrifice. Assuming the duties of Warden at a time when the College was in its infancy, and with few students on its roll, Dr. Fairbairn brought to his work a clear brain, a warm heart, an indomitable will, and a well-furnished mind. He has left an enduring impress on his work in this College, founded to train young men for the sacred ministry of the Church, and his influence will be felt for generations to come in the lives of the men who have come under his moulding hand. Nearly three hundred candidates for Holy Orders have been graduated from St. Stephen's during Dr. Fairbairn's Wardenship, and the Church and the world have been made the richer and the better by the lessons of truth and righteousness learned at the feet of this Christian scholar. With high purpose and unflagging zeal, Dr. Fairbairn has pursued his course, often in the face of great obstacles, and with a single eye to the glory of his Divine Master and the service of young men in his life-work, and he has earned the veneration and good-will and affection of all who know him. In retiring from his arduous labors, in a ripe old age, he has the satisfaction of knowing that his work is appreciated by the Trustees and patrons of St. Stephen's College, and their prayer is that the evening of his days may be unclouded, and that although he has passed the four-score years of the Psalmist, the remainder of his noble life may bring him the comfort and joy of duty well performed."
ROBERT B. FAIRBAIRN
[A sermon preached by the Rev. George B. Hopson, D.D., Acting Warden in the Chapel of St. Stephen's College, Annandale, N. Y., Septuagesima, January 29, 1899.]
For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.--ROMANS xiv. 7.
OUR thoughts, to-day, are fixed often upon him who has just passed to another state of existence, but who for thirty-six years was the central point of this community. As Warden of this College, as Rector of this parish, as the friend of every person in this neighborhood, Dr. Fairbairn occupied a commanding position, and exercised a powerful influence. We looked up to him as our guide and teacher, whose advice we were to follow, and whose example we should imitate. His influence was always exerted for good-As a light shining in a dark place, as a city set on a hill, that cannot be hid, he manifested the graces and virtues of the Christian life. And yet there was no ostentatious display of his goodness. Singularly modest in his disposition, he would be the last to speak of his merits. He seemed to be good, because he was good. Out of the abundance of his heart, his mouth spoke. His deeds of kindness and acts of courtesy were the necessary expression of his inward feeling.
It seems fitting that such a character should be preserved in our memories, and kept ever before us as an object for our imitation. St. Paul says: "Be ye followers of God, as clear children;" but he also says: "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." The Lord Jesus is our perfect Model, but His saints, who, in their daily life, reflect some of the brightness of that Sun of Righteousness, may also help to guide us on our road to heaven. Though they have passed beyond the vail, their memories should not perish. The influence of their good deeds should not cease with their earthly existence. We should treasure such lives as a precious heritage. We should talk of them to our children, and our children's children. We should hand them down through the ages to come, that they may be an incentive to generations yet unborn. When they see what human nature can, by the grace of God, effect, they also will be led to conquer besetting sins, and to rise to a like degree of holiness.
Robert Brinckerhoff Fairbairn was born in the city of New York, May 27, 1818. He had attained the ripe age of eighty years and eight months, when he was called from the toils and sorrows of earth to the rest and reward of Paradise. His education was conducted at Bristol and Trinity Colleges (from which latter institution he was graduated in 1840), and at the General Theological Seminary. He was admitted to the diaconate in 1843, and advanced to the priesthood in 1844 by Bishop Onderdonk, of New York. He was Rector of Christ Church, Troy, from 1843 to 1848; of St. John's Church, Stillwater, from 1849 to 1852; of St. Andrew's, Providence, R. I., from 1852 to 1853; and of Calvary Church, Cairo, from 1853 to 1862. While Rector of the latter church, he resided in Catskill, and was Principal of the Catskill Academy. In 1862, he was invited by our Trustees to take the Chair of Mathematics, which had just been rendered vacant by the resignation of Professor Babcock. He accepted the appointment, and discharged his duties so satisfactorily that when, in 1863, Dr. Richey resigned the Wardenship, Mr. Fairbairn was chosen as his successor. This office he held, as you know, for thirty-five years, giving to the College the best powers of his mind and body, his rich stores of learning, his love, his zeal, his care, his life.
He was a man of remarkable industry. I was informed of my election to the Chair of Latin, after the beginning of the College year, in the fall of 1863. The Tutor who had been appointed was out at sea, and unable to return for a few weeks. But the Warden, though alone, never thought of putting off the opening of the College. Single-handed, he undertook the work, and taught all the classes in all the departments, until assistance arrived. It was characteristic of the man. He was ever ready to do his share, and more than his share, of teaching and preaching, and never complained of being overworked. His aim was the success of the College, and the thorough education of young men for the ministry, and to accomplish that, he spared not himself. It is said that the busiest men are the very ones who can always find time for one thing more, and to whom others are wont to go for counsel and assistance. The Warden always had time to visit with a friend, to give advice to a student or parishioner, or to attend to any unexpected duty that might be laid upon him. He also found time to do a vast amount of reading. He bought new publications, and made it a rule to read, each day, at least a hundred pages. In this way he kept abreast of the times, and accumulated vast stores of information, which, with his powerful intellect, he assimilated and utilized in his daily work.
The trials of life are various, and come in many forms to all of us; but the Warden of a College, especially during the struggling years of its early history, has his own peculiar cares and anxieties, beyond what fall to the lot of others. He, however, was always cheerful, hopeful, patient, uncomplaining. He made the best of everything. He did what he could with small resources. He looked on the bright side. He gained friends for the College, and gradually accumulated buildings, endowments, apparatus, and books, which, though still unequal to its needs, are vastly superior to what they were in 1863. There were many dark days, many critical periods, when a weaker man would have given up the task; but he was steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, believing that the Lord had given him this work to do, and that he would be false to his trust if he abandoned it.
He had the courage of his convictions. He had clear ideas of what he wished to accomplish, and the courage to maintain them. While courteous to those who differed from him in opinion, he held tenaciously to his own views, and often, by the clearness and force of his arguments, convinced his opponents. There was nothing lazy in his sentiments. He had a logical and mathematical mind, and, by the processes of reason, arrived at definite conclusions.
In his theological views and religious practices, he occupied the middle ground, yielding to neither extreme. He was neither High, nor Low, nor Broad, nor Narrow, but a sound, conservative, Prayer-book Churchman. He permitted certain practices, of which he did not altogether approve, because others desired them, and the Church was comprehensive enough to contain Christians of varying beliefs. He was a well-read theologian, and had a reason for the faith that was in him.
He was a courteous gentleman. He showed it in word and deed, in private and public life, with strangers and with friends. It was not a veneer put on for effect, but it was the prevailing habit of his life. Even in extreme age, when bodily infirmities rendered it difficult, he rose from his chair to greet a friend or to bid him farewell. A favorite maxim, which he often quoted to the students, was that of William of Wyke-ham, "Manners makyth man." He tried to impress upon them that courtesy, refinement, kind attentions, a delicate regard for the feelings and wishes of others were important factors in their future work. These, combined with earnest devotion and religious principle, would win success, where intellectual power alone would fail.
Dr. Fairbairn was a natural educator. He possessed not only a well-trained mind and vast stores of learning, but also the ability to impart his knowledge to others. He presented truth in sucti a form that it left an impress. He interested and attracted by the force of his arguments and the clearness of his illustrations. One of his former students once said to me, "The Warden was the first man who taught me to think for myself." His pupils learned to argue logically, to draw conclusions, to see the connection between cause and effect.
But while training their intellects, he did not neglect their morals. Christian education demands spiritual as well as mental culture. The formation of character during the period of College life is vastly more important than mere literary acquirements. He studied the lives of those who had been committed to his care. He watched over them with a father's solicitude. He noted their strength and their weakness. He gave to one a word of encouragement; to another, reproof; to another, advice; to another, warning. His sermons in the College Chapel were not vague, general, pointless. They were aimed at something. They were directed to particular sins, which he wished to remove, or addressed to some who were weak in the Faith, and whom he wished to strengthen. But better than all else in this moulding of character was the example of his own life. No one could long associate with him, without seeing that he was strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might; that he believed as seeing Him who is invisible; that the existence of the Divine Being and the life beyond the grave were as real to him as any object of sense. How could one, who, for four years or more, was daily brought under such influence, fail to profit by it'? Would it not put to shame all meanness and selfishness, strengthen his feeble efforts, and make him aspire to higher degrees of holiness? These young minds, that were brought under his moulding hand, during this plastic period of their lives, are now scattered all over the United States, and even in foreign lands, preaching the gospel of the grace of God. They are proclaiming to others truths learned from him. They are displaying to others characters formed by him. They are handing down through the ages the lessons which he inculcated. Go where you will, in any large gathering of the clergy of the Church, in Convention, in Convocation, in Archdeaconry meetings, at the laying of a corner-stone, or at the consecration of a Bishop or a Church, you are sure to find some of the Warden's boys. Distance and separation seemed to strengthen their love for him. They revered him as the teacher of their youth. They loved to tell to others the story of his life. Their greatest gratification, when they returned to the annual Commencements, was to find him still here, and to enjoy his cordial greeting and ready sympathy. Can such a man die'? Is not his life reproduced, to-day, in the lives of those who profited by his teachings? Will it not be reproduced again and again in the lives of those, who, in turn, are being moulded by their example and instruction? A stone drops into the quiet bosom of a lake, and sinks to the bottom; but the waves which it produces move on in ever-widening circles, and find no rest until the shore is reached. A life disappears from our sight, but it still lives in Paradise. Its prayers and alms have gone up for a memorial before God. Its good deeds are numbered in earth and heaven. "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, from "henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them."