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NASHVILLE, BY A KENTUCKIAN.*
[NASHVILLE, JANUARY 12, 1832.]
I AM, Mr. Editor, a citizen of a remote part of Kentucky, and have hitherto enjoyed but slender means of knowing much about Tennessce. Indeed, my chief information has been derived from the common school geographies, and from a few occasional notices in the Kentucky papers. Business having recently called me to the South, I have spent about six weeks in Nashville and its vicinity. I need not attempt to describe to you all the surprise which I felt at the first sight of your beautiful city, and the many interesting objects which meet the stranger's eye at every turn. We, in Kentucky, have been so long in the habit of regarding Tennessee as a kind of semi-barbarous, illiterate, outlandish region, that I could scarcely credit the testimony of my senses, when I everywhere beheld unequivocal proofs and monuments of superior intelligence and cultivated taste. Can this, thought I, be the metropolis of an ignorant, wild, rowdy race of adventurers, who have not yet mastered the first elements of civilization?
But my astonishment was at its height, when, after a week's observation, I discovered that you possess a
* Printed in the Nashville Republican, January 12, 1832. N.B. The "laudatory reviews" referred to were written by myself.
really first rate university. I had some difficulty, I acknowledge, in making this discovery-or rather the discovery was owing to mere accident. For no person during the progress of my inquiries, ever hinted that such an institution existed among them. The bridge, the theatre, the churches, the market, the penitentiary, the steamboats, the courthouse, the hotels, the academy, the warehouses-were eagerly pointed out, and sometimes, with no little ostentation, by the worthy citizens with whom I happened to converse. But the university was never mentioned or alluded to. I stumbled it in the manner following.
In one of my usual morning rambles, without any other object in view than to see what was to be seen, I kept along Market Street until I ascended a hill of considerable elevation, half-a-mile distant perhaps from the public square, where my attention was presently arrested by the appearance of a number of well-dressed youths about the doors of a large brick edifice, and by sundry other indications which bespoke an establishment totally different from anything which I had been prepared to anticipate in that quarter. Without ceremony, marched into the yard and mingled with the youths aforesaid, who, I soon learned, had just come out of their breakfast-room, and were in fact students of a university! They were perfectly polite, and seemed pleased to gratify my curiosity in every particular. In short, I examined the whole premises-was introduced to the professors-attended the lectures and recitations. -spent an hour in the laboratory-looked at the
splendid apparatus, cabinets of mineralogy and natural history, library, etc. Returning to my hotel in the evening, I began to expatiate on the extraordinary advantages thus placed within reach of the youth of your-city; when, to my utter amazement, no one of the large company present seemed to comprehend the scope of my remarks. That there was some sort of a school on College Hill, they did appear to admit-but of its nature and objects, of its fixtures and teachers, of its endowments and pretensions, they were as ignorant as I had myself been until within a few hours before. I have frequently since taken occasion to visit the college, and have become intimately acquainted with its arrangements, discipline, modes of instruction, and provisions of every kind for the improvement of its gentlemanly pupils. On the whole, I must in candour declare that I never was before so thoroughly satisfied with any similar establishment-and I have had opportunities of making tolerably fair comparisons. I have studied on
the spot the character of the most celebrated Eastern colleges, and I flatter myself that I am neither a partial nor an incompetent judge.
My object however, in this hasty communication, is not to laud your college, but to inquire why it is so little known here at home-in Nashville-and in the country around. Can it be that the people are indifferent to education, or hostile to their own university? Have its patrons and friends ever taken the trouble to proclaim its merits to the people, and to excite their sympathies in its behalf? Do its officers never appear before the
public as speakers? Do they deliver no Inaugural or Baccalaureate addresses-no introductory lectures-no colonization, temperance or Bible society speeches? If they do, are their pieces published and dispersed far and wide among the people? Now, in Kentucky, every public address of a college instructor appears forthwith in print as matter of course, and may be found in every cottage in the commonwealth. To give one example. The Inaugural Address of the late President of Transylvania University was published not only in pamphlet form, but in every journal and newspaper, whether political, religious, literary or scientific, in Lexington, and I believe throughout the State. It was thence copied into many papers in the adjacent States: and I recollect to have been informed at the time that it was published entire in at least one of the Nashville gazettes. The same course is pursued in regard to the introductory lectures of our medical professors-and thus everybody becomes acquainted with their talents, principles and literary qualifications. I have seen, within a few days past, the most laudatory reviews of a Lexington "introductory," in your City papers,-while not one of them contained a syllable about your own excellent university.
Your professors must either be culpably silent, or their productions must be deemed by your critical sages utterly worthless, or they must be singularly modest, or somebody must be at fault that nothing from their pens should ever reach the public eye. I tell you, Mr. Editor, that if the Tennesseeans are like the Ken
tuckians, their college will never assume its proper rank, until the newspaper press shall be fully enlisted in the cause, and its officers be made through it to speak to all the people. Had I depended on your citizens for my knowledge of the Nashville University, I should have gone home without even dreaming that it could possibly be equal to an ordinary Kentucky grammar schoolperhaps even without having heard of its existence! I now leave you, resolved to send my own sons to be educated here, in preference to any other college in the Union.