Rev. Timothy Dwight, IV, President of Yale

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Timothy Dwight, IV

Birthdate: (64)
Birthplace: Northampton, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, United States
Death: January 11, 1817 (64)
New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut, United States (Prostate cancer)
Place of Burial: New Haven, Connecticut, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Maj. Timothy Dwight, III, Esq. and Mary Dwight (Edwards)
Husband of Mary Dwight
Father of Timothy Dwight; Benjamin W. Dwight, MD; John Dwight [twin]; Rev. Sereno Edwards Dwight, Pres. Hamilton Col.; Rev. William Theo. Dwight, DD and 3 others
Brother of Sereno E. Dwight, MD; Jonathan E. Dwight; Hon. Theodore Dwight, M.C.; Mary Morris; Fidelia Edwards Porter and 8 others

Occupation: Pres of Yale 1795-1817; co-founder Andover Seminary, Clergyman, President of Yale College 1783-
Managed by: Vance Barrett Mathis
Last Updated:

About Rev. Timothy Dwight, IV, President of Yale

A Patriot of the American Revolution for CONNECTICUT with the rank of CHAPLAIN. DAR Ancestor # A035772

Timothy Dwight (May 14, 1752 – January 11, 1817) was an American academic and educator, a Congregationalist minister, theologian, and author. He was the eighth president of Yale College (1795–1817).

Early life

Dwight was the eldest son of merchant and farmer Timothy Dwight III (a graduate of Yale (1744) of Northampton, Massachusetts. The Dwight family had a long association with Yale College, as it was then known. His father was also a major in the Continental Army and served under George Washington. His mother was the third daughter of theologian Jonathan Edwards. He was remarkably precocious, and is said to have learned the alphabet at a single lesson, and to have been able to read the Bible before he was four years old.

Dwight graduated from Yale in 1769. For two years, he was rector of the Hopkins Grammar School in New Haven, Connecticut. He was a tutor at Yale College from 1771 to 1777. Licensed to preach in 1777, he was appointed by Congress chaplain in General Samuel Holden Parsons's Connecticut Continental Brigade. He served with distinction, inspiring the troops with his sermons and the stirring war songs he composed, the most famous of which is "Columbia".

In 1777, Dwight married Mary Woolsey (1754–1777), the daughter of New York merchant and banker Benjamin Woolsey (1720–1771). This marriage connected him to some of New York's wealthiest and most influential families. Woolsey had been Dwight's father's Yale classmate, roommate, and intimate friend.

On news of his father's death in the fall of 1778, he resigned his commission and returned to take charge of his family in Northampton. Besides managing the family's farms, he preached and taught, establishing a school for both sexes. During this period, he served two terms in the Massachusetts legislature.


Dwight first came to public attention with his Yale College "Valedictory Address" of 1776, in which he described Americans as having a unique national identity as a new "people, who have the same religion, the same manners, the same interests, the same language, and the same essential forms and principles of civic government."

Declining calls from churches in Beverly and Charlestown, he chose instead to settle from 1783 until 1795 as minister in "Greenfield Hill," a congregational church in Fairfield, Connecticut. There he established an academy, which at once acquired a high reputation, and attracted pupils from all parts of the Union. Dwight was an innovative and inspiring teacher, preferring moral suasion over the corporal punishment favored by most schoolmasters of the day.

He received honorary degrees from Princeton University in 1787 and Harvard University in 1810.

In 1793 Dwight preached a sermon to the General Association of Connecticut entitled a "Discourse on the Genuineness and Authenticity of the New Testament" which when printed the next year became an important tract defending the orthodox faith against Deists and other skeptics.

Dwight was the leader of the evangelical New Divinity faction of Congregationalism — a group closely identified with Connecticut's emerging commercial elite. Although fiercely opposed by religious moderates — most notably Yale president Ezra Stiles — he was elected to the presidency of Yale on Stiles's death in 1795. His ability as a teacher, and his talents as a religious and political leader, soon made the college the largest institution of higher education in North America. Dwight had a genius for recognizing able proteges — among them Lyman Beecher, Nathaniel W. Taylor, and Leonard Bacon, all of whom would become major religious leaders and theological innovators in the ante bellum decades.

During troubled times at Yale University, then-president Timothy Dwight saw his students drawn to the radical republicanism and “infidel philosophy” of the French Revolution, including the philosophies of Hume, Hobbes, Tindal, and Lords Shaftesbury and Bolingbroke. Between 1797 and 1800, Dwight frequently warned audiences against the threats of this “infidel philosophy” in America. An address to the candidates for the baccalaureate in Yale College called "The Nature and Danger of Infidel Philosophy, Exhibited in Two Discourses, Addressed to the Candidates for the Baccalaureate, In Yale College" was delivered on September 9, 1797. It was published by George Bunce in 1798. This book is credited as one of the embers of the Second Great Awakening.

Dwight was as notable for his political leadership as for his religious and educational eminence. Known by his enemies as "Pope" Dwight, he wielded both the temporal sword (as head of Connecticut's Federalist Party), and spiritual sword (as nominal head of the state's Congregational Church). He led the effort to prevent the disestablishment of the church in Connecticut—and, when its disestablishment appeared inevitable, encouraged efforts by proteges like Beecher and Bacon to organize voluntary associations to maintain the influence of religion in public life. Fearing that the failure of states to establish schools and the rise of "infidelity" would bring about the destruction of republican institutions, he helped to create a national evangelical movement—the second "Great Awakening" -- intended to "re-church" America. Dwight was a founder of the Connecticut Academy of Arts & Sciences, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, and Andover Theological Seminary.

Dwight was well known as an author, preacher, and theologian. He and his brother, Theodore, were members of a group of writers centered around Yale known as the "Hartford Wits." In verse, Dwight wrote an ambitious epic in eleven books, The Conquest of Canaan, finished in 1774 but not published until 1785, a somewhat ponderous and solemn satire, The Triumph of Infidelity (1788), directed against David Hume, Voltaire and others; Greenfield Hill (1794), the suggestion for which seems to have been derived from John Denham's Coopers Hill; and a number of minor poems and hymns, the best known of which is that beginning "I love thy kingdom, Lord". Many of his sermons were published posthumously under the titles Theology Explained and Defended (5 vols., 1818–1819), to which a memoir of the author by his two sons, W. T. and Sereno E. Dwight, is prefixed, and Sermons by Timothy Dwight (2 vols., 1828), which had a large circulation both in the United States and in England. Probably his most important work, published posthumously, is his Travels in New England and New York (4 vols., 1821–1822). The work contains much material of value concerning social and economic New England and New York during the period 1796-1817. (The term "Cape Cod House" makes its first appearance in this work.) The work also contains the correspondence between Dwight and the theologian Gideon Hawley, following Dwight's visit to the elder preacher who was a very close friend of Dwight's parents.

Dwight died of prostate cancer, and was buried in New Haven's Grove Street Cemetery. Dwight left eight sons: Timothy (1778–1884), a New Haven merchant and philanthropist; James (c1778-?); Benjamin Woolsey Dwight (1780–1850), a New York physician; educator and theologian Sereno Edwards Dwight (1786–1850); and clergyman William Theodore Dwight (1795–1865). Dwight's grandson and namesake, "Timothy Dwight the Younger" (1828–1916), served as Yale's president, 1886-1899. His nephew, Theodore Dwight Woolsey (1801–1889), served as Yale's president between 1846 and 1871. Another nephew was Theodore Dwight (1796–1866), an author and journalist.

The Gentle soul, Henry Opukahaia

Henry Opukahaia was orphaned at age 10 after witnessing the tribal warfare deaths of his parents and younger brother in the Islands of Hawaii. He signed onto a ship leaving Hawaii and eventually wound up at the captain's home in New Haven, Connecticut. He was bright but he had no formal education. One day he sat on the steps of Yale College and explained to a passer-by that he was upset because, "No one gives me learning." (This quote is on the plaque at his graveside in Hawaii.) He was taken under the wing (and into the home) of Yale president Dr. Timothy Dwight.

Henry embraced Christianity and converted in 1815. In 1816 he enrolled in the new Foreign Mission School, established by the American Board across from the Congregational Church in Cornwall, Connecticut. He became very involved with plans to send missionaries to Hawaii.

He planned to return to Hawaii himself to preach, but contracted typhus fever and died in 1818 in Cornwall at the age of 26. Henry is credited with starting Hawaii's conversion to Christianity. On Aug. 15, 1993, Opukahaia's remains were laid in a vault facing the sea at Kahikolu Church near the town of Napoʻopoʻo, Kona, on the Island of Hawaii. It was the third church established in Hawaii by missionaries inspired by Opukahaʻia. Hawaii's churches observe the third Sunday in February as a day of commemoration in honor of its first Christian.

Plaque at the Cornwall, CT grave site: "In July of 1993, the family of Henry Opukahaia took him home to Hawaii for interment at Kahikolu Congregational Church Cemetery, Napo'opo'o, Kona, Island of Hawaii. Henry's family expresses gratitude, appreciation and love to all who cared for and loved him throughout the past years. Ahahui O Opukahaia"


Although long dismissed by historians as a reactionary who contributed little to American life (for example: "Timothy Dwight, a president of Yale University and to this day one of America's most respected "divines," was opposed to the smallpox vaccination because he regarded it as an interference with god's design")[4], recent scholarship, as it engages the central importance of religion in our culture, is coming to acknowledge his significance as a religious leader and educational innovator. His influence on the thousands of students who passed through Yale during his presidency was significant.[citation needed]

His 1785 poem The Conquest of Canaan is considered to be the first American epic poem.

In the twentieth century, Yale named Timothy Dwight College for him and his grandson.

In 2008, The Library of America selected Dwight's account of the murders of Connecticut shopkeeper William Beadle for inclusion in its two-century retrospective of American True Crime.


  1. ^ Welch, Lewis et al. (1899). Yale, Her Campus, Class-rooms, and Athletics, p. 445.
  2. ^ The History of the Descendants of John Dwight, of Dedham, Massachusetts, Benjamin Dwight, New York, 1874
  3. ^ as cited in The Quest for Nationality: An American Literary Campaign, Spencer, Benjamin T., Syracuse University Press, 1957, p. 3
  4. ^ Hitchens, Christopher, God is Not Great. New York: Twelve, 2007: 47. ISBN 0446579807
  5. ^ Ehrlich, Eugene and Gorton Carruth. The Oxford Illustrated Literary Guide to the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982: 54. ISBN 0195031865


   * Kelley, Brooks Mather. (1999). Yale: A History. New Haven: Yale University Press. 10-ISBN 0-300-07843-9: 13-ISBN 978-0-300-07843-5; OCLC 810552
   * Welch, Lewis Sheldon and Walter Camp. (1899). Yale, Her Campus, Class-rooms, and Athletics. Boston: L. C. Page and Co. OCLC 2191518

Further reading

   * Berk, Stephen E. (1974). Calvinism versus Democracy: Timothy Dwight and the Origins of American Evangelical Orthodoxy. Hamden, Connecticut: Archon Books.
   * Cuningham, Charles E. (1942). Timothy Dwight, 1752-1817. New York: Macmillan Company.
   * Dexter, Franklin Bowditch. "Timothy Dwight" in Yale Annals and Biographies, III, 321-333.
   * Dwight, Benjamin Woodbridge. (1874). The History of the Descendants of John Dwight of Dedham, Massachusetts. New York: J.F. Trow & Son.
   * Dwight, Timothy. (1831). Theology Explained and Defended. London: T. Tegg.
   * __________. (1823). Travels in New England and New York, W. Baynes and Son, and Ogle, Duncan & Co., London, England, 1823.
   * Dwight, Timothy, Memories of Yale Life and Men, 1903.
   * Fitzmeir, John R., New England's Moral Legislator: Timothy Dwight, 1752-1817, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Indiana, 1998.
   * Hall, Peter Dobkin, "The Civic Engagement Tradition," in Mary Jo Bane, Brent Coffin, & Richard Higgins, Taking Faith Seriously, 2005.
   * Olmsted, D., "Timothy Dwight as a Teacher." In American Journal of Education, V (1853), 567-585.
   * Parrington, Vernon Louis, The Connecticut Wits, Harcourt, Brace, New York, 1926.
   * Silverman, Kenneth, Timothy Dwight, Twayne Publishers, New York, 1969.
   * Sprague, William Buell, Life of Timothy Dwight in vol. iv. (second series) of Jared Sparks's Library of American Biography, 1856.
   * Tyler, Moses Coit, Three Men of Letters., G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 1895.
   * Wenzke, Annabelle S., Timothy Dwight (1752–1817), E. Mellen Press, Lewiston, New York, c. 1989

External links Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Timothy Dwight IV

For selections of Dwight's writings and an evaluation of his significance, see P.D. Hall, Documentary History of American Philanthropy and Voluntarism

   * [1]
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (Eleventh ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

Source: Downloaded Jan. 2011 from Wikipedia.

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Rev. Timothy Dwight, IV was President of Yale 1795-1817.

He was grandfather of the Rev. Timothy Dwight who was President of Yale 1886-1899.

Jeanette S. A. Rice (Sergeant) wrote about Timothy Dwight IV in her 1883 memoir, "Tales That Have the Rime of Age":

"When my father went to Norwalk to bring your mother home, they came by way of New Haven in order to visit President Dwight, who was a cousin of my father’s. The visit made a great impression on your mother. It seems Mrs. Dwight rose early, leaving her husband asleep, and when he came to the breakfast table he addressed her with 'Good morning Madame Dwight,' in a precise dignified manner your mother always remembered."

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Few men have poured out as much for Yale as did Timothy Dwight. He was a prodigious scholar, a brilliant educator, and an educational reformer far ahead of his time. He was the chief architect of Yale as a university. And Dwight was a powerful revivalist who helped usher in repeated spiritual awakenings at Yale during his 22 years as president, and this at a time when apostate philosophies had all but destroyed faith on the campus.

Anyone who seeks the good of Yale would do well to study Timothy Dwight’s life. He carried in his bosom the vision of the school at its academic and spiritual best, and labored tirelessly to see the vision fulfilled.

Early Years

Pedigree alone would have made Dwight’s birth notable. He was born on May 14, 1752 to the third daughter of Jonathan Edwards, the great theologian and revivalist of America’s First Great Awakening. Mary Edwards Dwight daily immersed Timothy, her eldest, in catechisms, Bible stories and doctrine. Since no public schools existed at that time, she was Timothy’s (and his twelve siblings’) school.

On his father’s side, Timothy came from a venerable line of public servants, judges, militia captains and lawyers. The Dwights were noble, if not by title in the New World, then by conduct, and their family name was associated by all with public service and integrity.

It didn’t take long for Mary Dwight to discover her eldest had an unusually quick mind. By age four, Dwight was reading the Bible, songbooks, books on prayer and whatever else his mother gave him. At the age of six, the precocious Dwight would overhear Latin lessons given to older boys at a local grammar school, and then steal away on his own to go over Lilly’s Latin Grammar. He had a remarkably absorbent mind, and not infrequently surprised adults by recounting stories he had read, with all the minutiae included.

Christianity is a system of restraint on every passion, and every appetite. Some it forbids entirely; and all it confines within limits, which by the mass of mankind, both learned and unlearned, will be esteemed narrow and severe. Philosophy, on the contrary, holds out, as you have already seen, a general license to every passion and appetite. Its doctrines therefore please of course; and find a ready welcome in the heart.

Dwight progressed so rapidly as a student, it was expected that he would be ready to enter Yale by the age of eight, at half the age of the typical freshman. However, the preparatory school he was attending closed down, delaying his academic progress. The fields of learning in New Haven would have to wait five years.

In 1765, at the age of thirteen, Dwight nervously faced his college entrance examiners and displayed, to the great pleasure of his hearers, his grasp of Tully, Virgil and the Greek Testament; his ability to write Latin prose; his understanding of arithmetic; and that he had a “suitable testimony of a blameless life and conversation.” He was in.

Dwight’s days at Yale were marked by grueling self-imposed discipline. His effort earned him valedictory honors at his graduation and an appointment as a tutor of the undergraduates.

In that role, Dwight spent every free hour conquering new fields of study. At one period, mathematics and the infant field of physics became his passion. At another period, it was poetry. Never one to shy away from a subject, Dwight decided to try his hand at writing epic poetry after the style of Milton and the classical poets. The eventual result was The Conquest of Canaan, which told the story of the Jewish people’s victorious march into God’s promised land.

All this effort—as a scholar, tutor and administrator—took a toll, however. Studying night after night by meager candlelight, Dwight ruined his eyes. Furthermore, by the second year of his tutorship, his health failed, forcing him to quit his habitation of books indefinitely.

But this was Providence at work. His weakness brought him close to death and forced him to recognize his mortality, even though he was only 21. Suddenly, the Scriptural lessons and stories he had known from childhood spoke to him as they had never done before. He recognized he needed God’s salvation, and sought to obtain assurance of it. Early in 1774, comfort came to his heart. He yielded his life to the Creator, pledging himself to be an instrument for divine purposes in the hands of the Master Craftsman. Dwight stepped out from this experience with a new set of motivations.

Revivalist President

By 1795, Dwight had distinguished himself as a scholar, educator, writer and citizen, and became the obvious choice to succeed the recently deceased president of Yale College, Ezra Stiles.

Dwight was inaugurated September 8, 1795, and the challenges began immediately. What confronted him on the campus was not pleasant. The Yale of the post-Revolutionary War years was far from the uneventful place of universal Puritan conformity it is commonly thought to have been. British and French soldiers brought to American shores not only their military might but also the worst of the Old World’s cynicism and loose morals.

Students found pleasure in nightly revellings that frequently included breaking tutors’ windows and smashing bottles. Yale men regularly clashed with drunken townsmen in violent engagements where rocks flew and clubs flailed.

Yale College in 1807, from an engraving by Amos Doolittle. Far to the right, President Dwight in spectacles watches the students playing football. (Courtesy Yale University Library.)

Christian faith was unfashionable and reviled on campus. Voltaire became Yale’s “prophet,” and “reason” her watchword. Caught up in the fervor of the age, students renamed themselves after French philosophers, addressing each other as “Classmate Diderot” and “Sophomore D’Alembert,” for example. Harvard had succumbed to rationalism long ago, and it appeared inevitable that Yale would follow suit. But for Dwight, it most likely would have.

In Dwight’s mind, all his effort as president was worthless if those he nurtured left Yale intellectually filled but spiritually poisoned with soul-destroying philosophies.

Something rose up in Dwight as he faced this hostile challenge from across the Atlantic. When the senior class decided to test their new instructor by suggesting they debate the question, “Are the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament the Word of God?,” Dwight, to their utter amazement, picked up the gauntlet.

With academic rigor he refuted the popular arguments against the reliability of Scripture and submitted his reasons for believing it to be the revelation of God. With a rhetorical knife sharpened by faith and years of diligent study, he cut through the seductive abstractions of the French philosophies, and demonstrated to their devotees the unreasonableness of what they had embraced.

In the classroom, he reasoned, and in the pulpit, he pleaded. Cold hearts began to thaw at his words as snow melts in the face of a steady spring sun. In 1802, his eyes saw what his heart so yearned for. A religious revival swept across the campus, and nearly 80 of the 230 students at the school were converted to Christ. One of those stirred was Benjamin Silliman, who recounted in a letter to his mother:

“Yale College is a little temple: prayer and praise seem to be the delight of the greater part of the students, while those who are still unfeeling are awed into respectful silence.”

The event was extraordinary. Religious revivals were no more commonplace on college campuses then than they are now. Students were no less prone to rebellion and hostility to faith in Christ. Harvard, which had given up the guidance of Scriptures long before, remained cold throughout the early 1800s while Yale was being touched again and again with spiritual awakenings.

Another revival visited the campus in 1808. Yale had sunk on spiritual matters since the first revival, so that only 15 believing students remained on campus. Heavily burdened one Sabbath day, Dwight preached to his students one of the most passionate sermons of his life. “Young man, I say unto thee Arise!” was his challenge, and conviction fell on Yale once more.

In 1812-13 another revival came in which almost one hundred students gave their hearts to Christ. A fourth came in the spring of 1815, this one sparked by a group of students who gathered at 3:30 every morning to pray for the campus. One of the students was a convert from the previous revival, and later remembered these cold winter mornings of prayer as among the happiest of his life. Another student, who could not keep all the blessings he received to himself, happily carried a contagious faith to the Dartmouth campus, where afterwards, a revival ensued.

These awakenings were rescue and preservation for a campus which seemed intent on abandoning its Christian heritage. Hearing Dwight’s prayers, God saw fit to smile on Yale and continue stoking the spiritual coals that would fuel the school’s rich student missionary activity throughout the nineteenth century.

Dwight’s labors were not confined only to the Yale campus. He became recognized nationally as one of the most able defenders of Scripture, and judges, senators, lawyers, and wealthy laymen from various parts of the country came to hear him preach.

One such visitor wrote of Dwight, “[He is] methodical, eloquent, ingenious, forcible, and in language chaste, extremely energetic, he commands universal attention from his audience.”

Dwight’s discourses against the new philosophy were published in pamphlet form and distributed widely. He also published hymnals and founded missionary societies to further the cause of Christ.

President of Yale

The testimony of what Dwight did for students’ souls is inseparable from his achievements as the school’s chief administrator. Both labors sprang from a single source: his desire to see God’s purpose for Yale fulfilled.

It can be argued that no man is more responsible for making Yale the great institution of learning it is today than Timothy Dwight. His predecessor, the brilliant Ezra Stiles, led the school through the turmoil of the revolutionary years, and brought it to a tolerable state. But his gift was not administrative, and the school suffered from serious disciplinary problems and financial constraints by the time of his death.

With a flair for politics, Dwight set out early on to establish good will with the Connecticut state legislature, with which relations were often strained. Dwight prevailed upon legislators, who were wont to view Yale as a snooty preserve of high-minded academics, to consider her with pride and as the training ground for the state’s ablest and best.

The new President was not above pointing to a particularly well-funded rival in the Boston area to put Yale’s sometimes sorry condition in high relief. Under his persuasion, the state legislature opened up its coffers to the growing institution and provided funding in a time of critical need. The leaky roof of the chapel and the decaying structure of Connecticut Hall could finally be repaired.

Much of these funds were used to increase Yale’s library holdings. In 1795, Yale had a meager 2,700 volumes, a total which had remained static for over sixty years. Harvard had 13,000—motivation enough! Over his tenure, Dwight saw the library grow to a quality collection of 7,000 volumes, and later said, “Few libraries are probably more valuable in proportion to their size.”

Today, the number of academic programs at Yale is immense, but it was not always so. By the end of President Stiles’s term, only two professorships existed: the Professorship of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, and the Professorship of Divinity, both of which were being filled by the president himself. He and a handful of tutors ran the whole Yale program. Though Stiles envisioned the addition of a law school and medical school, his hands were tied by constraints caused by the war.

Dwight readily assumed the burden of his predecessor’s vision to expand Yale’s curriculum.

In 1801, Dwight received approval from the Corporation to hire a professor of law. Thus was planted the seedling that would become the Yale Law School. Then in 1802, the Corporation authorized Dwight to fill two newly created professorships, that of Languages and Ecclesiastical History, and Chemistry.

To the Chemistry chair he appointed a young tutor named Benjamin Silliman. Dwight persuaded Silliman to abandon his aspiration to become a lawyer and turn his efforts towards the then-infant field of chemistry. Silliman soon became “father of American scientific education” and caused the sciences to flourish at Yale and in America.

In 1811, after a protracted struggle for funding and faculty, Dwight saw the Medical Institution of Yale College established.

Dwight also laid the groundwork for the Yale Divinity School, which was established five years after his death. He intended it to be a bulwark against the infidel philosophies then threatening the country.

Dwight saw earlier than most what Yale was to become. With ceaseless energy he carried his vision through his days as President and applied all his administrative, political and rhetorical skills to bring it to fruition.

Sunset in Glory

On January 11, 1817, after over two decades of relentless activity for his Lord at Yale, Dwight passed into the hands of his Savior, an event which his old friend Jedidiah Morse graced with the words, “[Dr. Dwight’s] death is a public loss and will probably be more extensively felt than the death of any other man in our country. His sun has set in its full glory.”

It is hard to capture all the specifics of the life of this tireless laborer; he worked hard, and accomplished much. But the wellsprings of his life one can more readily identify: he loved his Savior, and the students entrusted to him. These motives set his life in motion, and Yale, and indeed the nation, were profoundly affected.

Stephen J. Ahn, JE ’96 © 2001 The Yale Standard Committee

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Prest. Timothy Dwight, S.T.D., LL.D., b. at Northampton, Mass., May 14, 1752, was but 17 years younger than his mother. Remembrances of youthful talent, and of early excellence of character, naturally recur with pleasure to those who see evidences of great personal superiority in after years. An aunt taught him his alphabet, going several times over the letters with him; and, when the next day she called him to her, expecting to renew the task in the same way again and again, she found him able to pronounce them rightly in succession at once; and he told her that "he did not want to spend any more time in learning them; but that other boys read further on in the book, and that he wanted to read where they did."

His mother having taught him the catechism one day when he was about four years old, ended with saying, that "he ought to be very grateful that he had a mother to give him such instructions." He at once asked, "Have not all persons got such instructions?" She saying, no! he asked, "Who has not?" She answered, "The poor Indians are not instructed in any of these things." A few days afterwards he was found sitting, after school hours, under an apple-tree in an orchard, talking to a company of Indians gathered about him, repeating to them earnestly the same things, that he had heard a short time before from his mother.

Some older schoolmates proposed to him, while yet a little boy, to go with them and get some pears out of a neighbor's yard. They went, and he took a few of his home to his mother, who told him that "it was wrong, and that he broke thereby the eighth commandment." He burst into tears, and, taking the pears back to their rightful owner, told the lady of the house what he had done, and that here were the proofs of it. She tried in vain to pacify him and make him keep the pears, but he steadfastly refused to do so—" it was contrary to the eighth commandment." The next day a basket of pears was sent to his mother by the lady, but, learning whence they came, he could not be persuaded to touch one of them.

Gov. Caleb Strong, his schoolmate, described in a letter to Dr. Sereno E. Dwight, March 26, 1817, his character when a boy, in this wise: "He appeared to have a mild and placid temper, and to be but little inclined to the noisy sports of children, but fond of reading and very sociable, inquisitive and intelligent; and he had an uncommonly tenacious memory."

He used to say that almost all his knowledge of geography and history, which was by no means small, he got from his mother. With her he read with great thoroughness and relish Josephus, Rollin, Prideaux and other such books. He spent one year at Middletown, Ct., under Rev. Enoch Huntington in preparation for college. See, for account of his collegiate course, the Memoirs prefixed to his "Theology."

He was grad. at Yale at the age of 17; when his father gave him 17 guineas, and he ever afterwards supported himself. He taught school for two years at New Haven (The Hopkins Grammar School), and was tutor in Yale for six (1771-7). While yet but 19 years old, he wrote his Conquest of Canaan.* (((* This youthful production was dedicated to George Washington. The following correspondence on the subject is of interest: "Genl. Parsons to Genl. Washington, Camp West Point, March 7, 1778.

Dear General: The writer of the letter, herewith transmitted you, is chaplain of the brigade under my command. He is a person of extensive literature and an amiable private character, and has happily united that virtue and piety which ought ever to form the character of a clergyman, with the liberal generous sentiments and agreeable manners of a gentleman. The meiit of the performance he mentions I am not a competent judge of: many gentlemen of learning, and taste for poetical writings, who have examined it with care and attention, esteem this work in the class of the best writings of the kind. He will be particularly obliged by your Excellency's consent, that this work should make its public appearance under your patronage.

I am, with great esteem, etc.,

Samuel H. Parsons."

"Rev. Timothy Dnight to Genl. Washington. May it please your Excellency:

The application, which is the subject of this letter is, I believe, not common in these American regions; yet I cannot but hope it will not on that account be deemed impertinent or presumptuous. For several years, I have been employed in writing a poem on the Conquest of Canaan by Joshua. This poem, upon the first knowledge of your Excellency's character, I determined with leave to inscribe to you. If it will not be too great a favor, it will certainly be remembered with gratitude.

I am not insensible, that the subject of this request is indelicate: as consent on the part of your Excellency cannot possibly add to your reputation, it may be followed by consequences of a disagreeable nature. Of the merit or demerit of the work, your Excellency cannot form a guess, but, from the character of the writer; with which you will be made acquainted by Genl. Parsons, who does me the honor to inclose this in one from himself. All that I can say upon the subject (and I hope that I may asseri- it with propriety), is—that I am so independent a republican and so honest a man, as to be incapable of a wish to palm myself upon the world, under the patronage of another, and as to be remote from every sinister will in this application, and to disdain making the proffer, slight as it is, to the most splendid personage, for whose character I have not a particular esteem.

I am etc.,

March 8, 1778. Timothy Dwight, Jr."

"Genl. Washington to Rev. Timothy Dwight, Headquarters, Valley Forge, 18

March, 1778.

Sir:—I yesterday rec'd your favor of the 8th instant, accompanied by so warm a recommendation from Genl. Parsons, that I cannot but form favorable presages of the merit of the work you propose to honor me with the dedication of. Nothing can give me more pleasure than to patronize the essays of genins and a laudable cultivation of the arts and sciences, which had begun to flourish in so eminent a degree before the hand of oppression was stretched over our devoted country; and I shall esteem myself happy, if a poem which has employed the labor of years will derive any advantage, or bear more weight in the world, by making its appearance under a dedication to me.

I am, very respectfully, yours, etr..

G. Washington."

See "Books Dedicated to Washington," vol. iv. pp. 57-90, and also "Historical Magazine," New York, vol. iv. p. 123. )))

Notwithstanding its faults of style, under the spell of Pope's influence, whose star was then in the ascendant in the poetic world, it is after all the best epic ever yet written in this country. It contains at least some really fine and spirited passages and is indeed a literary marvel, coming from the hands of such a mere youth. It was reprinted in London by J. Johnson in 1788. "While tutor at Yale he went thoroughly through, for his own pleasure and profit, the Principia of Newton; and he also pursued the study of law, with the expectation of making it his chosen profession for life.

He was a man through all his life of indomitable energy of will. His practical rule was, "totus in illis," in whatsoever he was employed; and his zeal for more knowledge was insatiable. While tutor at Yale, he lost his health, and almost seemingly beyond recovery. In seeking its re-establishment, he walked during a single year 2,000 miles (some 6 miles daily), beside having ridden in the same time 3,000 miles, or more than 8 miles each day. Despondency was never one of the phases of his mental experience, nor idle indifference to his duty. Recovering his health to the full, he knew well how to keep it ever afterwards; and great was the power that it gave him through all his long life of manifold effort, as a teacher, preacher and author, especially for the benefit of the young.

In 1774 he made an open profession of religion, and turned away his thoughts from the many brilliant inducements offered him to enter upon legal practice and political life, to the religious needs of the church and the age. A case of great injustice done by legal trickery, happening when his mind was yet undecided, helped greatly, it is said, to fix his purpose.

He was among the earliest advocates of the independence of the American colonies when multitudes of thinking men around him were indifferent, or, fearful, or opposed to so great and radical a style of social change. He was in his whole mental make a man of progress and a patriot, and was swayed by his ideas of what was right and best, instead of by his fears of what might come out of the effort to put them into effect. (See Travels in New England, vol. i. p. 159.) Hear his eloquent outbreathings of patriotic feeling: "In July 1775 I urged the necessity of a declaration of independence on the part of the Colonies — using the very same arguments which afterwards were generally considered decisive; but I found those to whom I spoke, gentlemen of great respectability, firm whigs and intimate friends, disposed to give me and my arguments a hostile and contemptuous, instead of a cordial reception. Yet at this time all the resentment and enthusiasm, awakened by the odious measures of parliament, by the peculiarly obnoxious conduct of the British agents in this country, and by the recent battles of Lexington and Breed's Hill, were at the highest pitch. These gentlemen may be considered as representatives of the great body of thinking men in this country. A few may perhaps be excepted; but none of these durst, at that time, openly declare their opinions to the public. For myself I regarded the die as cast and the hopes of reconciliation as vanished; and believed that the colonists never would be able to defend themselves, unless they renounced their dependence on Great Britain." Well therefore says Lossing (Field Book etc., vol. i. p. 67): "A few men, among whom were Dr. Franklin, Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, Timothy Dwight and Thomas Paine seem to have had an early impression that political independence was the only cure for the evils under which the colonies groaned; yet these ideas when expressed met with little favor, even among the most ardent patriots." He, one of the youngest of these noble men, being then but 23 years of age, was behind none of them in his broad views of the duties and dangers of the hour.

He m. March 3, 1777, Mary Woolsey,* (((* They were m. at the house of Pierrepont Edwards in New Haven, by Rev. Jonathan Edwards, Jr., D. D. The witnesses were Mrs. Edwards, Mr. Adam Babcock, Mr Heathcote Morrison, Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Broome, Miss Abigail Lloyd and Miss Sarah Lloyd — all but one or two of them Woolsey relatives. These facts are learned from an affidavit filed in the Pension Office at Washington, D. C, made by Madam Mary Dwight, and dated New Haven, January 8, 1838, at which time all the parties were dead but herself. A pension of $280.00 per annum was granted her, for her husband's services during the revolutionary war, on the basis of this and other affidavits presented; which was increased in 1843 to $350.00 a year.))) b. April 11, 1754 (dau. of Benjamin Woolsey of Dosoris, L. I., and Esther Isaacs of Norwalk, Ct.) On the 9th of June following he was licensed to preach. Oil retiring from his tutorship shortly afterwards, the students of the College drew up a formal request, that he might be appointed President. On Sept. 4th, 1777, he was appointed chaplain in the army in General Parsons' brigade. It was when stationed in the highlands near West Point, that he wrote his national hymn, "Columbia! Columbia! to glory arise!" etc. One of his sermons, intended to raise the drooping courage of the country, when Burgoyne had come from Canada with. his army, and was carrying all before him, was published; and a copy of it was read to the garrison in Fort Stanwix when Johnson had cut off their communication with Albany and threatened them with destruction. The venerable Col. Piatt said many years afterwards, that this sermon it was, which inspired the garrison to hold out to the last extremity, and to make a sally upon their besiegers, which effectually drove them off and contributed materially to the loss of the campaign of 1777 by the British. (See Goodrich's Recollections of a Life Time, vol.i. p. 351.)

In March 1779 he resigned his chaplaincy, on account of his father's death, and hastened to Northampton to comfort and aid his mother, in her great bereavement. Here, beside carrying on personally the patrimonial farms—there were two of them and each large—he kept a dayschool for youths of both sexes, in which he taught two hours daily himself, having two ushers in it, one of whom was Joel Barlow, the poet. Gen. Zechariah Huntington and Judge Hosmer were among his pupils at this time. After the capture of New Haven by the British, a number of the Yale students went and put themselves under his care. He preached also regularly each Sabbath during at least three of the five years spent then in Northampton, in neighboring towns, as at Deerfield (Muddy Brook), Williamsburgh, Hadley and Westfield. It was only in these combined forms of labor, that he could adequately provide for the maintenance of the large family cast upon his care. In 1782 he was a member of the Legislature of Massachusetts. During its session he was urged by a committee of representatives from his own county, to accept a nomination for Congress, to which Gov. Phillips added also the force of his own personal plea; but he refused to be drawn away permanently from the direct service of the church. While in the legislature, he advocated a grant to Harvard College which was secured. He was afterwards invited to settle in the ministry at Charlestown, Mass., and at Beverley, Mass., and was promised in connection with this latter call a professorship in Harvard College, if he would accept it. He preferred, however to accept a call to Greenfield Hill, in Fairfield, Ct. It was nearer to his beloved Yale, to the early home of bis wife, and to that metropolitan city whose currents of life filled the whole land then as now, with their light and heat. In November 1783 at the age of 31, he entered upon this rural pastorate, whose duties he discharged for twelve succeeding years laboriously and happily. He conducted, at the same time, a large and prosperous school of his own for both sexes, during the whole period; into which he gathered in all more than a thousand pupils from all parts of the land. Not honor, but usefulness, was the pole-star of his being. There seemed to him to be no higher way of promoting the best good of mankind than to be an honest, earnest, skillful, artistic educator of youth.

It would be hard to find a more quiet place than Greenfield Hill now is, and what must it have been one hundred years ago. The school-house and church, the two poles of his busy life there, have both been long since exchanged for better ones on the same sites. How he spent those strong grand years of his early manhood is plain enough. Six hours daily he taught his eager pupils with all his might. On his way to and from school, and at odd moments at any time, he thought out his sermons for the Sabbath, or composed poetry. Before and after school-hours, he was busy in his little manse of six acres, which he managed almost wholly alone, and largely as a garden of fruits and flowers. As he could find time, he sallied forth on visits to his parishioners, while his hospitable fireside was ever graced with the company of the most cultivated guests. He is said to have been the first one in our country, who cultivated strawberries in his garden.

In January 1784 or 5 he went to Northampton in his own sleigh. The snow was deep; and, on his return, there was a fresh fall of it upon the ground. Starting for Westfield, Mass., at a late hour in the afternoon, while the snow was still falling, he ere long found that he must trust to his faithful horse to keep the road, without any help from himself. Shortly after leaving town he had noticed a large, dark, yellow dog, which he had seen the day before at his mother's house as a strange visitor there, following after him. After several times striving in vain to drive him back with his whip towards the town, he at last took him into his sleigh for company, flight soon set in upon traveler, horse and dog, on a road without any fences, stretching over a long, solitary, dark "pine-plain." The horse at last lost the uncertain road, and came to a dead stand against a tree. The dog, seeing the situation, jumped from his resting-place and scampered off into the surrounding darkness, and, as the lone traveler supposed, to be seen no more. But ere long he returned again with brisk satisfaction, and, after jumping up several times towards the horse's head, and running a little way on before him, gave his bewildered driver the hint to follow after him, and brought him safely back to the road which he had lost. A similar experience, with the same kind of deliverance in each case, was several times repeated during that long, dismal ride through the very region and shadow of death. To "Lion," for such was the dog's name in the family, Dr. Dwight ever afterwards ascribed the preservation of his life, and thought of him always as a special messenger of providence to him for his good. It is needless to say that Lion was a great pet in the Greenfield home — somewhat similar for fondness to what " Lil" was in the Northampton one. When the family removed in 1795 to New Haven, Lion could not be persuaded in any way to go with them. He stayed resolvedly by the old house to take care of that, though shut up, and was fed by some of the neighbors until he died; It was a rule to shut Lion down cellar on Sunday. If any one however, carelessly left the cellar-door open, he would rush out, leap the fence in front of the house, and make all haste for the church. There he couched himself always on the broad step of the pulpit stains, at the turn, so that his master had to step over him in entering the pulpit. Once in a while during the service he would lift up his head, as if to see that all was right, and then settle back into his former quiet. When he heard "Amen !" at the end of the service, he started at once for the front door and hurried home.

A bird's-eye view of his home at Greenfield Hill, just as it looked to an intelligent visitor at the time, the writer has incidentally discovered within a recent date. It occurs in a manuscript-journal of a tour from Plymouth, Mass., to Fairfield, Ct., in 1789, by Samuel Davis, published in "The Proceedings of the Mass. Hist. Society," 1869-70, p. 18.

"Monday, Sept. 7, 1789. Make an excursion with Mrs. Burr to Greenfield Hill. Dr. Dwight resides there, and commands a beautiful and extensive view of Long Island. His mansion is all neat, and his gardens are well cultivated. He is very social: his presence is commanding. A habit of winking denotes a weakness of the eyes. His rooms are ornamented with paintings from the pencil of Mr. Dunlap, his brother-in-law. Some of the subjects are from his ' Conquest of Canaan.' One represents Irad and Selima, from the third book, line 135:

i O'er northern plains serene the lovers stray. And various converse charms their easy way.'

The figure of Irad is well delineated; Selima not so well." [Where are these pictures now? Who can tell? If any, speak.] "There are portraits also of Dr. and Mrs. Dwight — who treated us very civilly."

He afterwards speaks (p. 23) of calling on Mr. Dunlap in New York, " where we meet Dr. Dwight again, and see some fine drawings in India-ink, and paintings from Orlando Furioso, anl a sketch of the Inauguration of the President, on a scale of 12 by 8 feet, The Choice of Hercules, and The Youth Rescued from a Shark. Meet with a Mr. Woolsey here" (another brother-in-law).

The call to Greenfield Hill, by the unanimous vote of the parish, May 19, 1783, was accepted July 21st following. Its terms were: salary £150, settlement £300, a parish-lot of six acres, and twenty cords of wood annually. This was the largest salary given in the State at that time, it is said. Rev. James Pierpont of New Haven, was settled on the sum of £120 in grain and flesh in fixed prices, with. his firewood, annually.

From Greenfield Hill he was called, in 1795, at the age of fortythree, to the presidency of Yale, as successor to Dr. Ezra Stiles. Vigorous in health, buoyant in spirits, and animated by most inspiring moral aims, he went to this new post of duty and honor with his head and heart full of plans of great advancement for the college, in the style of its outward furnishings, and of its inward courses of instruction and study. For twenty-two years of high intellectual and spiritual activity, he filled out there the full measure of his capabilities of usefulness. Each summer, in his annual vacation, he took a long tour on horseback through various parts of New England and New York. The results of the information which he thus gained incidentally and purposely, in many successive years, are to be found in his "Travels in New England and New York, in four vols."

His great life-long trouble, both at Greenfield and New Haven, came from the incurable injury which he had done to his eyes when a tutor at college, by using them too much and too soon after his recovery from small-pox. From similar carelessness in another form, at the same time in his life, came the disease which terminated his earthly career, when in the possession otherwise of his full bodily strength — so heedless was he then, in his zeal for his books, of the needful laws of health. Unable to read and write for himself, he accomplished as much in both directions, through the mediation of others, as those who have done the best in such ways when having no restraint upon their energy. His correspondence was immense. To solicitations from all quarters for advice, direction, and co-operation, he turned a sympathetic ear. Busily indeed moved all his waking hours towards the one end and aim of best serving God and man. He rose early, took long morning and evening walks, and a brisk ride on horseback, and in summer worked vigorously, as a daily ride, in his garden. In term-time, beside looking after the wants and the welfare of his large family, entertaining many guests, maintaining a large correspondence, instructing his college-classes several times daily, and preparing discourses for the Sabbath, he taught private classes also in theology at his own house. Add to these varied engagements, thorough habits of connected daily reading, and it will be readily seen, that he was no idler upon earth. Deep, full and grand was the tide of his daily consciousness of joy. His published works amount to thirteen large octavos, and he left behind him unpublished ones in equal number.

His insight into any subject of thought clear; his intuitions •were quick; his power of concentration under full command; his memory exceedingly retentive; so that he handled every topic that he took in hand, as a plaything that he picked up or dropped at any time, at his will. The following description of him in his working moods, by Rev. Dr. Wm. T. Dwight, of Portland, Me., his son, brings him clearly into the field of view before us: "Mental labor never fatigued him: his mind was always ready for action, He enjoyed the same kind of animation from the beginning to the end of the week which others possess in only their happier moments. He would dictate all day to an amanuensis without any exhaustion, and this for three months together, and was always ready to dictate whenever an amanuensis was ready to write. He rarely corrected what he had dictated, but his writings were published as they issued from his lips. I wrote for him one year as an amanuensis. Although l wrote unusually fast, he always dictated as fast as I could write. We usually began a sermon on Monday morning, after 9 A.M. in winter, and wrote until 11 (when his college recitation began), and then began at 2 P.m., and wrote until 4J- o'clock. We commonly finished a sermon, of from forty-five to fifty-five minutes of a pretty rapid delivery, in the course of Tuesday. We were exposed to frequent interruptions, but, on resuming our work again, I needed only to give him the last word written, and he would at once go on as if no break in the train of thought had occurred; and this sometimes after an interruption of even two days." He never shunned work as such, but his nature demanded it in perpetual abundance.

"The professorship of theology" in the college he accepted at first from year to year (1795-180"i), but in 180.r entered upon it permanently, at the urgent request of the corporation. He had up to that time fulfilled its duties for #334.00 per annum, and would now accept, of the full salary of the position which was urged upon him, but $500.00, the greater part of which he gave to the two amanuenses that he henceforth employed, at the price of £150.00 each per year. In November 1805, he began to write out his " System of Theology," the mould of which he had cast carefully in his mind, while at Greenfield Hill. One sermon each week, during the collegiate year of 40 weeks, it was his rule to write, which he continued until Feb. 1810, when the work was completed. His "Theology" being finished, he wrote out anew his " Travels" into their present form. These have never gone through but one edition, and never will go through another, but they are held in continually increasing favor, for the interesting light that they throw upon the early history and state of our country.

He was a man of very fine physique, large and strong, and of full bodily proportions, and of a commanding mien. He stood about five feet eleven inches high, perfectly straight and had a broad open forehead, large piercing black eyes, beautiful teeth, a full chest and strong lungs. The expression of his face was that of mingled earnestness and benignity. His portraits, fine as they are, do not do him full justice. He had very impressive oratorical qualities, and a deep, strong, richly melodious voice. Says Dr. Anderson of him, in his Memorial Volume of the A. B. C. F. M.: "Prest. Dwight had a most attractive and impressive exterior; his form was erect and stately; his face finely formed, and his eye mid whole expression kindling with animation and intelligence; and his movements were the very expression of grace and dignity." (First edition, p. 105.)

He had a superior command of language, and studied words with great care, that he might use them with the best effect. It would be difficult to find one, who, when in his prime, was more fluent and successful in extempore speech than he. But, when, on leaving college he told his father the intentions which he then had of studying law, he endeavored to dissuade him from such a purpose, on the ground that he could never, in his view, speak with sufficient facility. He had at that time a habit of hesitancy in speaking, which came however not from the paucity of his ideas, but from the superabundance of words that occurred to him for expressing them, the selection of which delayed him in his utterance. This he felt that time and experience would soon cure. The sore trouble that he had in his eyes, and the natural freedom and fulness of his thoughts, alike suggested the early and constant practice of extempore preaching. While at Greenfield Hill, he did not write out 20 sermons. At Yale he continued the same habit, except in reference to the sermons designed for publication. He was rather a rapid than a deliberate speaker, but always dignified, earnest and inspiring.

His mode of preparing his Sabbath discourses, when at Greenfield Hill, was as follows: He meditated on the subjects which he had chosen for the next Lord's day, through all the week, at any odd intervals which be had, however fragmentary, as in going to and from school and when working in his garden, or taking a ride or walking out. The thoughts thus gathered he revolved thoroughly in his mind and digested into shape, but put them for the first time upon paper on the Sabbath, between the first and second ringing of bells for service— using but a small piece of paper for the purpose, and covering that with abbreviated language: this was his brief. "Greenfield Hill" he wrote in his walks to and from school, and at recesses in it. It was also in that rural retreat, that he planned and wrote out, in an abbreviated manner, his "System of Theology." There too he prepared bis lectures on "The Evidences of Divine Revelation," and his discourses on "The Return of the Jews," and a large part of his occasional sermons.

He was in his moral habitudes, as marked a man, as in his physical and intellectual characteristics. He was addicted to serious and soaring thoughtfulness of mind, independent in his opinions, scrupulously honest and honorable in all his conduct, genial, generous and dignified in his intercourse with others, thinking it the glory of life to be as useful as possible to all around him. So thoroughly sincere was he in his feelings, and so transparent and frank in revealing them to others, that he instinctively confided in those against whom he had nothing in evidence. "Confidence," he used to say, "is a delightful emotion. I .would rather be sometimes cheated than not to trust in those around me."

His sensibilities were quick and tender to both the influences of nature, and the ever-varying facts of human life. While his will was full and strong in its action, it was ruled throughout by an exact and imperial conscience. In all his administrative relations, and, as a public teacher and speaker, ho abounded in the power of great personal magnetism over others. Everything that ho undertook to accomplish soon took upon it the momentum of his own strongly onward-moving nature. No name is still cherished universally with such reverent affection as his, in Connecticut; and no human spirit that ever once dwelt within its bounds is more felt by its grateful inhabitants, to be still a living presence among them for their good than his. Says Dr. Rufus Anderson, in " The Memorial," etc., already quoted: "There are not a few still living who will show the estimation in which they hold him, by saying — Take him all in all, we do not expect ever to look upon his like again."

His services to his native laud and to the age were manifold. More by far than any other one person hitherto, he set for the American pulpit its present high ideal of intellectual culture and effectiveness. Dellamy, Smaller, Strong and Hopkins and the great Edwards were clear, argumentative and direct, but abounded more in rhetorically uncultivated force of thought, than in accomplished ease and grace of speech. To their substantial excellencies of discourse he added, for the first time in any manner which was influential upon the land at large, the high effects of a refined taste and of a sanctified imagination. The influence of his ideas and ideals of true pulpit effort has been very great also in England; where his writings have had a very large and welcome reception, for half a century past. Next to Edwards at any rate, and beyond him by far, it is believed, he has long been better known there, than any other American author.

No one likewise, of all the leaders of religious thought among us, has done as much as he, to bring real personal religion into favor with the educated classes. With what high and broad knowledge, goodl sense, strong logic and joyous enthusiasm did he determinedly smite, batter down, and beat to pieces the mean fancies of that boastful, French skepticism, which, when he accepted the presidency of Yale, was rife over all the land, and especially in its highest places of influence and power.

He introduced also a new style of educational ideas and efforts into our higher institutions of learning and courses of study. By his own personal enthusiasm, in suggesting and testing new ideas, ideals, processes and results in the highest forms of mental culture to be found in the land, he vitalized them with inspiring interest in the thoughts of his associates, and of thinking men at large in the community; while he gave to the cause of collegiate education throughout the country an uplift and onward movement, which have never been lost. More than all, he spiritualized the work of intellectual training, ever putting moral and religious ideas in the van of all his educational efforts. There is indeed no such true stand-point, for an adequate estimate of educational elements, influences and issues, as that to be found in the atmosphere of exalted, ministerial aims and endeavors, and as are suggested by a true sense of the claims of God's kingdom upon earth, upon all minds made capable by proper training of continued high productiveness of thought. His influence also, in promoting the present style of systematic, theological education, was positive in many ways, although not exactly capable of full, historic presentation. He was also, it is believed, the first in this country to advance the standard of female education to its present, greatly improved position. He taught his female pupils the higher branches of learning, in classes with those of the other sex who were preparing for professional studies; and with him began effectively that style of educational treatment of females, which is based as now on the idea of the essential equality of the two sexes in mental capacity. Rev. Dr. Win. Jeuks* of Boston, grad. at

  • In reply to a letter to him on the subject, he wrote as follows:

"Boston, 69 Boylstos St., May 19, 1866.

My Dear Sir: — Although my late lamented friend your uncle. Dr. Sereno E. Dwight, has given to the publican account of hi3 respected father; jet I rejoice that one of his descendants has undertaken a review of the whole lineage; because the very enterprise tends to illustrate our New England genealogies, and to increase our interest in the Puritan character, which it in so many Harvard in 1797, who d. at Boston Nov. 13, 1866, aet. 87, author of "The Comprehensive Commentary," once said to the author, that, "the time would come when the women of this country would, out of gratitude to Dr. Dwight for his services in improving the education of their sex erect a monument to his memory." The mother of John Quincy Adams, in describing her early history, writes tints of the style of education that was the best obtainable for girls at Boston, in her day: "Education was limited for girls in the best families to writing and arithmetic, and, in rare instances, music also and dancing; and it was fashionable to ridicule female learning."

Says Dr. Holland (Hist. West. Mas3., vol. i. pp. 481-2, pub. in 1855): "Boston, with its Latin and English High Schools for boys,

instances happily exhibits. Puritan, I say, because this is no small part of its distinction; but enterprise, courage, inventive industry and skill distinguish it besides, and require investigation in biographic history, and well reward it.

I was never in the company of your honored grandfather but twice; yet they have been to me quite memorable instances of enjoyment. The first was in this city, at the house of Rev. Dr. Channing's mother, previous to her son's adoption of those theological speculations which Lave given him his sectarian eminence — the company consisting, beside the President, of Dr. Morse and Mr. Huntington, Pastor of The Old South Church. The next time was at Andover, where the President had been invited to a conference, in reference to the Theological Seminary. He like myself lodged at the house of Prof. Pearson. In the morning he complained of having had a restless night, saying: 'This is no country for a man to sleep in.' I answered him with a line from Homer:

Oii XPV xawi'xiov eifietv {3ov?,r/<p6pov avfipa. I might have added the next line; hut it was not necessary.

His exertions for the better education of females set an important example in such a way to the country. For myself I know, that, as to our public schools in Boston — I can remember when females were first permitted to attend them, which was about 1787.

I have long thought that his stirring ode, i Columbia ! Columbia! to glory arise !' had a great influence in animating national hope and spirit in the revolutionary war, and to a degree which has not been adequately acknowledged. Once, when visiting on the Hudson, I made a similar remark to an historical friend, who fully agreed with me. That ode, so enthusiastically patriotic, exhibits a high and just view of female worth and of woman's proper position and work, as man's purifying companion, and the intellectual sharer in his scientific and literary pursuits as well as in the ordinary joys and sorrows of human life. It has done, I think, and is doing much, in civilizing, humanizing, and christianizing our country. Much might be said also of his 'Travels,' which have for many years furnished instruction to others, and shown what talent and observation can accomplish in such a form. His volumes of Theology need no commendation from me.

Yours cordially,

Wm. Jenks."

never until within five years afforded the same privileges to girls. In heathen nations, all over the globe in all ages, males alone have been deemed worth educating. A different philosophy is beginning to prevail. Previous to .the revolution, male teachers were almost exclusively employed ; and it is only within the last quarter of a century, that females have been employed to take charge of winter schools. A young lady was considered sufficiently educated when she had learned to read. To be able to write, or understand the science of numbers, was deemed unnecessary. It is said, that few of our Puritan mothers were able to write their names, and, that the wives of many distinguished men, when requested to sign deeds or other legal documents, could only leave their mark upon them."

He was among the few active founders of the A. B. C. F. M., and was one of the nine first members of its Corporate Board. He was also one of the founders of the American Home Miss. Society, and had a very decided influence in originating the American Bible Society. He it was also, who first proposed and brought about "the plan of union between the congregational and presbyterian churches" of the land. The proposition first came to the notice of the public, from the Western Association of Fairfield Co., Ct., of which he was a member, and as devised by him; whence it was carried to The General Association of Connecticut. How much the Presbyterian Church of this country is indebted for its present large growth in numbers and power to this plan of union, and so to Prest. Dwight, its founder, year s of thorough investigation into the facts of the case could alone even approximately show. He was appointed by the Genl. Association of Connecticut, June, 15, 1790, as a committee, with Dr. Goodrich and Messrs. Elliott and Huntington, to correspond with the Massachusetts Convention and the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. This Assembly, in May 1791, and, in June 1791, the General Association of Connecticut, each, appointed a Committee to meet, Sept. 14, 1791, in the chapel of Yale College, for accomplishing the desired result. The Committee of the General Assembly were Drs. John Rodgers, John Witherspoon and Alexander McWhorter, and also William Tennent and Jedediah Chapman. That of the Genl. Association was composed of Prest. Dwight, Drs. Jonathan Edwards, Jr., and Elizur Goodrich, and also Benjamin Trumbull and Levi Hart. Dr. Rodgers was moderator, and Dr. Dwight scribe.

To Prest. Dwight also should be ascribed, it. is believed, the establishment of Theological Seminaries in this country. See the testimony of Rev. Dr. N. W. Taylor, in Sprague's Annals American Pulpit, vol. ii. p. 162. His mind was full of organizing instincts and habits of thought; and he was ever busy in contriving some new form of advancement for Bible-truth in the world, or in erecting a new barrier somewhere against wanton attacks upon its majesty and its strength.

Thousands upon thousands have read, with great pleasure and profit, edition after edition of his "Theology" in this country, and in England and Scotland. In what secondary forms of reflected good, beyond all possibility of finite appreciation, he has benefited multitudes indirectly, through the bettered thoughts and lives of those whose aims and endeavors he directly elevated to new points of moral excellence by his instructions and personal influence, none but God himself can know. His baccalaureate sermons, which attracted always great crowds of listeners were regarded at the time as his most eloquent discourses. But in his case, as in that of John M. Mason and of Robert Hall, the two unrivalled preachers of their day for immediate effectiveness in the pulpit, the world has plainly shown how much in its estimation, rhetoric stands in abiding worth below logic; or, in other words, how much more precious is truth in the mass to mankind, than any of its entire superficial ornaments however glittering. Never more than one edition of his " popular" miscellaneous and baccalaureate sermons has been sold in this country, and of the first and only edition of them ever published in England but a mere fraction could be "worked off" — the remainder being brought to this country, after many years and sold here. But his "Theology," full of solid thought and argument, has gone through a score of editions in this country, and through at least a hundred abroad.

But his chief services to mankind were not so much those of a preacher, as of a teacher. For 46 years continuously, excepting the one year and a little more of his chaplaincy in the army, he spent the united force of his great intellect and heart, in girding up such of the youth of his generation, as he could reach with his influence, to the best possible use of their time and talents, for their own good and the glory of God. And, in what an ever-widening stream of benefits reproduced in unending succession, one upon the other, does such a course of wise efforts in one's own brief day extend its blessings far and near among mankind. Those 46 years of earnest and. delighted didactic toil were distributed, as follows — nineteen of them being spent in giving academic instruction: two were spent at New Haven as the head of the Hopkins Grammar School (1769-71), as were six afterwards as tutor at Yale (1771-7): five he spent at Northampton in teaching a private school there (1778-83), as also twelve subsequently (1783-05) at Greenfield Hill, in a similar way. For twenty-one years after this period, until his death, he abounded, in every way, in the most magnanimous and untiring interest in the duties and privileges of the presidency of Yale (1795-1817).

The academy, which he occupied at Greenfield Hill, was built for him by subscription and was plain enough in appearance, with a small cupola on top, but no bell, three windows on each side and accommodations for 50 or 60 pupils. It stood on the public square, and was 34 feet long by 22 feet wide. After some 70 or more years of continued use, it was replaced, a few years ago, by another building of much the same sort upon the same spot. The school numbered, when at its height, some 50 pupils of both sexes — most of them from out of town, a dozen or more of whom boarded in his own family. The mass of them were from 10 to 13 years of age, with a few at times that were older, some of whom came from Yale to spend their fourth year with him rather than in that institution. He had no assistant, except as, on the Lancasterian plan, he employed to some extent his more advanced pupils to hear the recitations of those who were younger. The studies pursued were — beside spelling, reading, penmanship, composition and declamation — English Grammar, Arithmetic, Geography, Latin, Greek, Algebra, Surveying, Navigation and Natural Philosophy.

He used the rod in punishment but little at most — relying more on earnest and affectionate reproof, as a check to wrong conduct. He was full of the love of his work in every form, and, while keeping school in part to augment his means of pleasurable subsistence, he did it still more for the charms of abounding usefulness which it presented to him, in unfailing repetitiousness of opportunity.

His labors as a teacher at Yale were multiform, and he was ever spontaneously ready to increase rather than contract them. Beside being, in both form and spirit. President of the College, and entertaining at his house an almost continuous procession of guests from all parts of the land, and holding a wellnigh perpetual levee there of personal friends each evening; he was practically the Professor of Divinity — teaching many pupils theology, Chaplain of the College, Professor of Rhetoric, Professor of Logic and Metaphysics, and Professor of Moral Philosophy.

He was remarkable at all times for his strong interest in the best development and progress of the thousands of young men committed to his care, and in the personal success afterwards of the deserving. Few in all the world anywhere have actively helped as many persons to positions of usefulness and honor as he, and none with more extreme delight. He lived to see multitudes occupying the high places of power in the land, into which he had himself inducted them, and great numbers rejoicing to belong to the household of faith, as the fruits of his zeal for their conversion.

In "Peter Parley's "Recollections of a Lifetime" quite an easy, running sketch occurs of President Dwight, as he appeared to the eyes of its author; from which the following disconnected extracts are made (vol. i. pp. 347-60): "In the summer of 1809, he visited New Haven, then a sort of Jerusalem in his imagination, a holy place containing Yale College, of which Dr. Dwight was President." "On Sunday he went to hear him preach. He was then at the zenith of his fame — a popular poet, an eloquent divine, a learned author, and President of the College. He was, unquestionably, at that time the most conspicuous man in New England, filling a larger space in the public eye, and exerting a greater influence than any other individual. No man since his time has held an equal ascendency, during his day and generation in New England, except perhaps Daniel Webster. In allusion to his authority in matters ecclesiastical as well as civil — for he was a statesman and exercised his influence in politics — he was familiarly called by political adversaries, Old Pope Dwight."

"He was of a full, round, manly form. I have never seen a smoother, rounder head than his, which was slightly bald and close shorn. He had a noble aspect, a full forehead, and piercing, black eyes, though partly covered up with large spectacles in a tortoise-shell frame. His voice was one of the finest that I ever heard from the pulpit — clear, hearty, sympathetic, and entering into the soul like the middle notes of the organ. Trained as I had been from childhood to regard him, as second only to St. Paul, I discovered in his discourse full justification of his great fame."

"He was perhaps even more distinguished in conversation than in the pulpit: his knowledge was extensive and various, and his language eloquent, rich and flowing. His smile was irresistible."

"The pupils of the college under his presidential charge almost adored him. Those who had the good fortune to receive their education under his auspices, look back upon it as a great era in their lives. With all his greatness in other respects, he seems to have been more particularly felicitous as the teacher, the counsellor and the guide of educated young men. In the lecture-room, all his high and noble qualities seemed to find their full scope. Here he taught not scientific instruction only, but lessons also in morals and manners, and the wisdom which experience and common sense only could furnish. And, more than this: — he sought to infuse into the bosom of all that high principle, which served to inspire his own soul—to be always a gentleman, taking St. Paul as a model. Every kind of meanness he despised.

Love of country was the constant theme of his eulogy. Religion was the soul of his system of thinking."

A brief and compact summary may he made also of some of the main outlines of the account given of Prest. Dwight in Sparks' Am. Biography, in this wise:

His intellectual powers were remarkably well-proportioned in themselves, and symmetrical in their development. The solid and the versatile were equally conspicuous in him; and his imagination and memory held the past and the; future in full strength, like the present itself, withiu his vision and under his grasp. He had at complete command whatever he knew, and words ample and fit for expressing it to others. His knowledge was, like his very mental constitution, broad and comprehensive. He pursued mathematics for pleasure through Newton's Principia: of the classical languages he was ever very fond; while in intellectual and moral philosophy, theology, logic, rhetoric and poetry he was greatly at home. Music he relished much, and studied both as an art and a science.

He came upon the stage of action, at the end of the long and strong swell of revolutionary excitement, when great questions were agitating all hearts; when men's minds were everywhere at a white heat with interest in passing events; and when there was a sound in the air itself of coming changes of high import in church and state. His soul was charged to the full with the spirit of the hour. He must speak and write his own earnest thoughts to others. Great men were all around him; and he was foremost among the greatest.

His temperament was ardent: his will strong: his consciousness of inward power continual: and his aspirations for usefulness were high and mastering. These elements of mind and character, guided by habits of profound reflection and diligent observation, and accompanied by abounding industry and a spirit of profound prayerfulness made him a man of vast influence for good. Truthfulness of feeling, purity of motive, faithfulness of spirit, comprehensiveness of view and largeness of liberality constituted the moving forces of his heart and life. i His instincts were generous and his sympathies were very tender. It was the joy of his heart to help others who deserved remembrance and aid.

His reverence for God and his word and ordinances was most profound. Clear and unquestioning was his faith in the verity of things unseen, as revealed in the Scriptures.

He was eccentric in nothing, but strong in all directions of mental and moral force. He was conservative alike in his disposition and radical—conservative of what was good, and radical in Ids mood of [ocr errors]

Son of Timothy, Son of John, both of Dedham, Mans. 159

mind toward everything evil. His habits of thought and action were executive and practical. To a young minister who, in speaking of a given community, as morally well-conditioned, " because the doctrines of the gospel were faithfully preached there," he replied: "That is well; but are the duties of the gospel preached also?"

He was a great reformer of the previously established forms and modes of education in the land. He used to define genius, to be "nothing more nor less than the power of making successful efforts." While teaching his pupils thoroughly in abstract science and the art of reasoning, he paid special attention to rhetoric and oratory, which had previously been much neglected. The best history that could be written of his' presidency would be a list rightly prepared of the distinguished individuals, who were fitted by his instrumentality for various stations of dignity, responsibility and usefulness.

In his later years, he read his sermons more generally than at an earlier date, anil, as a consecpuence, he had less variety of inflection then than previously; but his reading, speaking and gesticulation were always simple and earnest, and without any seeming consciousness of desire to be deemed impressive. His earnestness not only possessed him, but also his audience. His chapel-prayers, so well remembered by his admiring pupils, were generally of one mould in form, though somewhat varied in expression, from time to time. When any special feature of the times, or any great public event, particularly awakened his sensibilities, he was quite disposed to freedom in the construction of his prayer. He was always reverent, humble and sincere iu his public approaches to God.

In 1815, he wrote an article called, " Arguments for an American Bible Society and Objections to it Considered," several copies of which he directed his amanuensis to prepare, and send to various leading individuals in different parts of the land. "The first exclusively religious newspaper in this country was undertaken, at his earnest recommendation, at New Haven. The publisher soon called on him for advice, and expressed doubts about sufficiency of matter from time to time for sustaining it." "Matter?" exclaimed he: "Why do you not know that the millennium is coming? Once begin; and the Spirit and providence of God will supply you with matter until your limits will be too narrow to sustain it."

He was a decided Federalist of the Hamilton school, and was especially jealous of French influence in education, literature and politics.

He had great flexibility of power and purpose, and adapted himself easily to all circumstances and circles, in which he happened to move.

1G0 Son of JVcithaniel Dwight, both of Northampton,

His literary, practical and social characteristics were all remarkable for their vigor.

His inquisitiveness of persons, in all possible varieties of position and occupation, concerning anything and everything worthy to be known. was one of the most noticeable features of his character.

His manners were polished and refined, and full of both affability and dignity, without any air of affectation, and beautiful for their discreet propriety.

Few persons in any age or land have the opportunity, if they could possibly meet it in a victorious way, of passing unscathed, as he did, through a long continued ordeal of high and wide-spread, public favor.

His grateful remembrance of early friends and favors was not destroyed by time. He never forgot to bless his college-tutor and kinsman, Stephen Mix Mitchell, for his watchfulness over him in the early part of his college-course, when he had begun to yield to devious tendencies; and always regarded him, as having under God saved him from ruin in that part of his history.

His suffering from the diseasa of which he died was excruciating; and, in his last hours, he alternated with frequency from drowsiness to agony for several days. He died in January 1817: in the preceding May, a surgical operation had given him temporary relief from his great bodily anguish. But this was alas of brief continuance; the disease was too mighty for human skill to battle it in its progress; and he died, under the continually exhausting power of ever accumulated pain.

Such is a brief view of a series of points of biographical interest presented by Dr. Win. B. Sprague in " Sparks' Am. Biography" concerning Brest. Divight in a much more scattered way than here, as well as more diffuse. They are grouped together more for their intrinsic truthfulness and their point, than for their original form of expression, which was too voluminous for the author's use.

Many are still living (1874) who were his pupils; and fond are they always of recounting to his descendants his personal appearance; and characteristic points of various kinds, in his style of teaching and preaching. The description here given of him by Dr. Child of Crown Boint, N. Y., was found recently floating about in the newspapers, and is here made to do more permanent service than its writer had thought of.

Son of Timothy, Son of John, both of Dedliam, Mass. 161

Reminiscences Of President Dwight.—By Willakd Child, D.D.

Class Of 1817.

From Sept, 1813 to Dec. 1815, I saw Dr. Dwight almost daily during college terms. But my recollections of him are chiefly connected ■with the chapel, as he only met our class a few times in our first senior term, after his partial recovery from the disease which finally terminated his life during our winter vacation.

He was accustomed to attend and conduct the evening worship of the chapel, and his image is vividly before me after the lapse of more than fifty years, as he entered the door, with stately tread, grasping with both hands his broad-brimmed beaver upon his breast, and bowing, alternately to the right and left, as he passed np the aisle through the ranks of students, as they stood and made reverent answering obeisance.

Dr. Dwight had great delight in " the service of song," and his own voice often joined with that of the college choir. Occasionally, if the pitch did not suit him (we had no organ or other musical instrument in those old days) another key-note would come booming out of the pulpit, at the close of the first stanza startling to all, but especially discomfiting to those who were responsible for the conduct of this part of the worship. Indeed, I used to think the music was never much improved by such a nerve-shaking shock.

The great and good President had occasionally what is called a "tone," but it was never offensive to my ear. It was most marked at evening prayers in the chapel. It was a kind of chanting; e.g., in a sentence of three clauses, the first would be closed with a strong rising slide, the second would perhaps follow the example of the first, or sometimes more as a monotone, while the third terminated with a falling inflection. It might be indicated on the musical staff. But the few (eheu! how few,J surviving who heard it will well recall the notes which chanted the oft-repeated supplication:

May the inhabitants of this place, Like the happy inhabitants of Lydda and Saron, Turn to the Lord.

Or that other favorite Scriptural supplication:

May it be unto them a place of broad rivers and streams, Wherein shall go no galley with oars, Neither shall gallant ship pass thereby.

But this cantillation was rarely noticeable in the Dr.'s prayers on

the Sabbath, nor did it characterize the utterance of the stately and

ornate periods of his admirable sermons. In preaching he never made

a gesture, nor lifted a hand, except to turn the leaves of his MSS

But his elocution was finely adapted to his style of writing, and there was no tameness but generally great interest and often deep and commanding impressiveness in it.

I remember particularly two sermons which were heard by the college audience with breathless and even tearful interest. The first was from the text " The harvest is past, etc., etc. 1 do not think I have ever seen any assembly more completely dominated by the profound application of religious truth to the understanding, conscience and heart, than was that congregation of young men. Perhaps the writer was himself too thoroughly under the influence of the solemn spell to be an accurate observer, but so it seemed to him. The second sermon was of a different but not less interesting character. He had so far recovered from a paroxysm of the deadly disease which was hastening him heavenward, as to be able to appear again in the sacred desk. His pale countenance and comparatively feeble utterance gave powerful emphasis to its peculiar teachings. I am not able to recall the text. It was in part of the nature of a confession. It told how life, and his own life, appeared to him as he looked back from the brink of the grave and the opened gates of eternity. It spoke of vanishing earth-visions, the rending away of delusions, and of how things appear when seen in "the light of God's countenance." There was a deeptoned, even awful pathos in the honest self-application, by one so justly venerated, of these momentous verities to his own character and prospects. It forced home the inquiry, "If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the sinner and the ungodly appear."

At one time there had been strolling around the college grounds and buildings, a crack-brained, vagabond Hibernian. He was said to have graduated at Dublin University. However this may have been, his Latin was better than that of most of those who measured arms with him. He had found his way into the chapel. It happened that the President was delayed this evening, and there was a long time of waiting. Some of the boys began chaffing this tonguey vagrant, and he to respond, as was his wont, in full measure. The fun grew fast and furious. From words unfitting the time and place, the transition was sudden to impious deeds. Hymn-books and other missiles at hand were hurled to and fro without any warning to "stand from under." While the turmoil was its height, the President entered, unseen by all save those near the door. But soon his well-known voice was heard, and his majestic presence was beheld by all eyes, as he stood, clasping, as usual, his hat upon his breast, while the single, simple utterance, "Young gentlemen, this is the house of God!" brought at once the stillness of the grave, broken by no sound but that of the voice which with more than usual solemnity and tenderness read the word of God, and seemed by its accents in prayer to plead — although there was no expression of rebuke — "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

Some winter scenes in the old chapel during the years of my college life would mightily affect more than one of the senses of the present generation of Yale. How would they bear being routed from their beds at 6 o'clock, A.m., in the months of winter, with the thermometer at 10 deg., to go to morning prayers in a chapel which had never dreamed of a stove? i shall not disclose the religious aspects of these occasions. I fear it would not be edifying, and that for the most part the officiating tutors were as glad when the thing was over, as were the glum and shivering students.

And then, on a wintry Sunday, what think you of the grand and far renowned President of Yale taking his place in the pulpit of that unwarmed chapel, buttoned to the throat in a close-fitting drab-colored greatcoat, with mittens on his hands, and so going through the devotional services? In such costume, and under such circumstances were preached many of those discourses which the religious world now admiringly read.

Yet Dr. Dwight, in any garb or position, was never otherwise than dignified and commanding. None of the dignitaries who occasionally attended evening prayers, and passed in and out with the President, could overshadow his presence. Even the gallant and graceful John Cotton Smith, bearing the title of Governor, and wearing the richly mounted and brightly scabbarded sword of office upon his thigh, was plainly second in the students' bows of homage. And General Humphrey, a revolutionary aid of Washington, and romancing historian of Putnam's wolf-den, as he limped out in the wake of the doctor, challenging similar acknowledgment, had his claims often scantily honored. Yale College, Connecticut, his country and the world owe President Dwight much, and acknowledge the debt. But his earthly resting-place should be honored by a worthier monument than the sham verde antique, with its inscription half illegible, by which it is now marked.

His son, Benj. W. Dwight, M.D., speaks in some brief notes that he prepared in manuscript of his father's life and labors (in 1817), more than 50 years before what Dr. Child has similarly stated as above, of the great power of the discourse upon " The Harvest Past." He says, being a listener to it himself: "It was the most eloquent and impressive discourse that I ever heard. His delivery was singularly earnest and impassioned; and the whole discourse was impressive to a degree that I never saw equaled. He subsequently wrote it out: See his Miscellaneous Sermons; but it has not in its present, calmer form the full power that it had in its high extempore delivery from his own lips." A little incident is perhaps worth adding here: Dr. James Coggeswell of New York, having borrowed a sermon of Dr. D wight's on "The Dignity and Excellency of the Gospel," sent a copy of it without his knowledge to the poet Cowper. Not long after receiving it, the poet, in a letter dated, Weston, Underwood, near Oluey, June 15, 1791, wrote to Dr. C. in reply, after having stated that he had read with pleasure the Conquest of Canaan : " Dr. Dwight's sermon pleased me almost more than any that I have either seen or heard."

The highest and best was what, only what, and gloriously what, he sought at all times in his work at Yale for the young men committed to his care to accomplish. His great, practical watchwords were, thorough achievement always, and continual onward movement towards something ever higher, truer and better for the institution at large, and for them individually. i

Personal freedom of thought he held, to be one of life's chief treasures to himself; and he always earnestly taught his pupils to think for themselves, and to hold themselves accountable only to God and their own consciences for their religious opinions, and never to put the Bible in leading strings to their own theories, or to the dictation or caprices of others. He often told them, to "let the Bible speak for itself." Great was his reverence for God, and absolute was the deference of his mind to truth. He never thought of himself, as belonging to any school in theology, except that of progress and never felt nattered by finding younger minds following obsequiously his opinions in theirs. Greatly did the momentum of his intellect and character and purposes in life stir to like vigor of feeling and effort the minds of all that remained long in his neighborhood.

His chief mental characteristics were such as these: comprehensiveness of aim and attainment, remarkable habits of observation and reflection, great sensibility to the beautiful, the good and the true, positiveness of conviction, earnestness of purpose, executive energy and administrative talent in whatever form, a memory of great breadth and grasp, reasoning powers of a high order, and an imagination which was in a continual glow. While it would not be just to describe him as technically a great logician, or a great poet, he had in him such powers and habits of induction and deduction, such quickness of perception, such love of research, such insight into the inward relations of things, such a wide range of knowledge, such acquaintance with human nature, such analogical instincts, such fulness of thought, such practicality of disposition, such an all-mastering sense of duty, such an eager love of industry, and such a conviction of the vastness of his moral relations, and of the grand, overshadowing future of all men as immortals :—all these and other like characteristics he had in such large combination, that he was a truly great man in himself, as well as by his circumstances. Hon. Roger M. Sherman, of Fairfield, Ct., himself one of the great men of the past, said of him (Sprague's Annals, vol. ii. \i. 165): "I often expressed the opinion, which length of time has continually strengthened, that no man, except the father of his country had conferred greater benefits on our nation than President Dwight." What others of high fame have freely said of him to his praise, his descendants and relatives may modestly repeat to one another. His great gifts from his God, his own varied attainments, his noble aims in life and his joyously inexhaustible industry, all swayed by a heart full at all times of sanctified elements of thought and feeling, made him a man that the world will never be willing to forget.

His name is used, it is believed, more abundantly in New England and the Northern States, generally, as a baptismal name, than any other name in the land, beside George Washington's; and it is not certain that, that should be excepted. He of all who have hitherto borne the name Dwight, or had a share of any sort in the family lineage, has 'done by far the most, that has been at any time done to make the name one of honor in the land. For this reason such full prominence has been given to his personal history in this record of the family at large. All honor now and hereafter to this noble standard-bearer of our name! Honor to such as he was in character and in life exalts those themselves who delight to render it.

The sketch which is here given of him, is not at all a compend of others previously published. Those, who would like to read whatever can be found concerning him, are referred to the memoir of him written by Dr. Sereno E. Dwight, and prefixed to his " Theology," Sparks1 American Biography, vol. iv., second series, and Sprague's Annals Am. Pulpit, vol. ii. pp. 152-65. Brief sketches also of him, delivered as funeral discourses or euloginms by Dr. Gardiner Spring of New York, Prof. Benjamin Silliman of New Haven, Prof. Olmstead of Yale, and Dr. Chapin of Wethersfield, Ct., may be found here and there in a few public libraries.

His merits, as a writer of sacred lyrics, must not be forgotten. He versified 33 of David's Psalms. Among them were Psalms 18, 19, 28, 29, 43, 52, 53, 54, 59, 64, 65, 70, 72, 75, 79, 83, 88, 100, 104, 137, 140, 145, and 150. No American poet has written yet so many hymns that the church has gladly accepted as its own, and none have been written by any one in the land, which have been greater favorites than some that have come from his pen. They are such as these: "I love thy kingdom, Lord ": "While life prolongs its precious light": "Stretched on a bed of grief I lay."

His amanuenses (1805-17) were as follows: Sereno E. Dwight (I805): Louis Mitchell (1806): Nathaniel W. Taylor (1807): David L. Daggett (1808): E.lwin Wells Dwight (1809): Samuel Turney (1810): Edwards Morbe (1811): Richard C. Morse (1812): William T. Dwight (1813): Joseph P. Taylor (1814): Joseph D. Wickham (1815): William Williams (1816).

He died at New Haven, while Prest. of Yale, Jan. 11, 1817, after most acute suffering from disease of the bladder, which was of long standing. A post-mortem examination revealed a cancerous tumor there, and other tumors with it, called medullary sarcoma of the bladder.

Among the wise and beautiful words that dropped, at lucid intervals, in his last moments from his lips, were the wishes that he expressed concerning his honored consort: "I wish her," he said, "to live substantially as she has been accustomed to do, and in the place that she may choose. It is better for her to distribute her favors to her children, than for them to distribute theirs to her."

That he generally scorned to be over-earnest to men of indifferent ideas and aims, was but the natural result of the great moral contrast between his life and theirs. So long a period of direct and positive didactic labor, as he performed, would by necessity make one of even much weaker mould by nature than himself, prompt and determined in his style of mental action, and even in his walk and speech. Continual success, in his many and great efforts to accomplish desirable results, both personally and officially, must have given him. at all times, a sense of victorious power, as a moral thinker and actor. His sons, all of whom were his formal pupils, cherished ever an almost poetical enthusiasm, about his many, personal and professional excellencies.

Although contenting himself with but a small stipend for his many great services to the college, and being most grandly hospitable in his homo, and abundant in charity to the poor and needy, he left an estate to his family, which, at his widow's death, amounted to $26,000. His estate was left by the united choice of his sons undivided in their mother's hands, so long as she lived, for her full use and benefit (1817-45). It was carefully husbanded by her, and increased by annual additions of copyright on his "Theology," and the yearly receipt of a pension from the Government. She herself also indulged her heart in the pleasure of yearly gifts to her different children of considerable sums of money, so long as she lived. The prudent economy of the early women of this country was one of the chief sources of the thriftiness of their families. How much they thus accomplished in behalf of the interests of education and of the church, no human historian can ever declare.

Mary Woolsey, b. April 11, 1754, whom he m. March 3, 1777, lived for nearly 40 years in wedlock, as his wife, honored by him, and... [Geni allows no further length]

Source: The history of the descendants of John Dwight, of Dedham, Mass, Volume 1

By Benjamin Woodbridge Dwight, J. F. Trow & son, printers a
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Rev. Timothy Dwight, IV, President of Yale's Timeline

May 14, 1752
Northampton, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, United States
March 29, 1778
Age 25
Stratford Court, Connecticut, United States
February 10, 1780
Age 27
Northampton, MA, United States
September 1, 1784
Age 32
Greenfield Hill, CT, United States
September 1, 1784
Age 32
Greenfield Hill, CT, United States
May 18, 1786
Age 34
Greenfield Hill, CT, United States
June 15, 1795
Age 43
Fairfield, Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States
April 19, 1797
Age 44
New Haven, CT, United States
January 11, 1817
Age 64
New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut, United States