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"In the April following (1805) I began to serve as usher or assistant in the school of Mr. Finley, at a salary of $300, without board. There I continued two years. I spent the summer of 1807 at home in bad health. On taking the degree of A.M. at the college commencement of September, 1807, I was prevailed on by President Smith to accept the Junior Tutorship in Nassau Hall. Thus my three most respected teachers successively sought me out in my humble obscurity, and almost compelled me to enter upon the course of labour and study which I have followed to the present day.
But your good father gave me the start-put me in the right place, at the A B C of the art and mystery which he so admirably adorned and ennobled. Had I begun at a higher post-with big
— boys and Latin and Greek, I should probably have broken down or given up in despair and disgust. He used to aid me-show me how to get along—and so kindly and wisely, without seeming to interfere, or even to assume any superiority. In the long evenings, after tea, he generally came to my room for an hour or two, or more- - when all sorts of things were talked about besides French, which was my chief study. Perrin's Grammar and Exercises were soon mastered, Telemaque read through, and other books looked into. We occasionally took up a Greek or Latin poet, or rather he did—and then to hear him read! I could have listened all night without dreaming or weari
He was a thorough prosodist, and a capital reader of English, Greek, Latin and French--especially of the finest poetic passages. In all these languages he seemed perfectly at home. His scholarship was minutely accurate—-extending to, and embracing every grammatical nicety and idiomatic peculiarity. Among the many good teachers with whom I have been acquainted during the last fifty years, the two who constantly loom up in memory, as decidedly first and highest in my estimation, are James Stevenson and Robert Finley. They were, and are, my model educators. Their superiors I have not known. Their equals I could not name. And yet they were most unlike each other."
After drawing a graphic picture of the peculiar excellencies of this good man, as the father and companion of his pupils, who could talk,
laugh and play with them without compromising a particle of true dignity,” he says in conclusion :
“His eminent worth as a teacher has ever exalted him, in my view, as facile princeps among the nomina clara of that meritorious class of benefactors to which he professionally belonged. I regret to have written so largely of myself and so little of your father.
“N.B. --This is altogether a private communication, and not for the public. With my best wishes for the happiness and prosperity of all the living representatives of our lamented and revered father, I remain, very truly and respectfully, your Christian brother and most obedient servant."
II. STUDIES AND ATTAINMENTS AT PRINCETON.
The period of Dr. Lindsley's residence at Princeton, from his acceptance of a Tutorship in 1807 to his final resignation and removal to Nashville in 1824, was one of vigorous intellectual growth. During these seventeen years—fourteen of them being spent in official connection with the College, and the rest, including a few brief absences and excursions, in theological study-his course was steadily and rapidly onward and upward. It was the period which determined and fixed his whole subsequent career as an educator. It placed him at the headfacile princeps-of one of the three oldest and most important of our Northern colleges, and gave him an extended and enviable reputation, both as a scholar and an instructor. We have often heard him refer to the enthusiasm and delight with which he pursued the studies and discharged the duties of this period. Especially was he in his element as Librarian of the institution. There everything was systematized and arranged with absolute perfection. It was his home, his sanctuary, his society. He knew every author familiarly, and every author's precise place on the shelves. He knew all the different editions, and was not satisfied with any but the best editions, and in all old standard authors, regarded it as a great point, to procure the "Editiones Principes."
But, not to go into anything like a detailed account of the various studies and attainments of this period, it will be sufficient to give the
general result aud impression of the whole, as stated by a few competent judges, who saw him thus in his early prime. In a brief sketch of him in the fourth volume of the Annals of the American Pulpit, Dr. Sprague says: “When I became a member of the Theological Seminary at Princeton, in 1816, Dr. Lindsley was a Professor in the College. As soon as I saw him, and before I knew who he was, he impressed me as a man of mark—his fine, intelligent and commanding countenance, and symmetrical person, and dignified air, left me in no doubt that he was one of the intellectual nobility of the place. Though he used regularly to attend the College Chapel, yet, during my connection with the Seminary, he never preached there, and I believe, rarely, if ever, preached at all. But he used to attend very often the evening exercises of the Seminary, which consisted in the discussion of some question previously agreed upon; and on those occasions I think he rarely failed to speak. And he never spoke without evincing keen discrimination and great polemic dexterity. Whatever the subject might be he always took a liberal and enlarged view of it: and showed the most expansive Christian sympathies. My impression then was, and still is, that his views of Christian doctrine, as well as of church polity, were of just about the same type with that of Dr. Smith, under whom he had studied, and for whose talents and character he cherished an almost boundless admiration. My personal acquaintance with him, while I was a member of the Seminary, was very limited; and yet, so strongly marked was his character, that there was perhaps no man in Princeton of whom I carried away a more distinct impression.”
Rev. Dr. Maclean, President of the College of New Jersey, in the same work, writing after a lapse of thirty years, describes him at this period in the following terms: "He was strong, fervid and bold; and not altogether free from defects common to men of ardent mind and nervous temperament. In conversation and debate he was ready and fluent; yet he very seldom ventured to preach without writing. I have no recollection of his doing so more than once while he was connected with this institution. His manner in the pulpit was plain and unaffected, yet earnest and impressive. With the students he was
a favourite preacher; and at their request he published several of his
The discourse which perhaps attracted more attention than any other which he published during his residence here, was his 'Plea for the Theological Seminary.' It seems however to have wrought differently upon different minds: for, while it led the Rev. Dr. Codman, of Dorchester, Mass., to make a donation of a thousand dollars to the Seminary, it gave great offence in certain other quarters, on account of its supposed allusions to some prominent individuals; and it was thought that this indirectly influenced him in declining the presidency of the College, which was subsequently tendered him.
“In his attention to his professional duties, Dr. Lindsley was always prompt and unflinching. Nothing short of absolute inability to leave his house would induce him to absent himself from any college exercise which it belonged to him to conduct. As a college officer, he was always popular, although he was sometimes severe in his rebukes. He was easy of access, and ever ready to encourage and aid any one desirous to advance in knowledge. He was fond of conversation, cheerful, and often playful in his remarks; and perhaps occasionally somewhat unguarded. He was a warm and true friend, but manifested his friendship by actions rather than by professions. On this point I can speak with entire confidence; for I testify of that of which I have the best evidence possible. To few of my friends do I owe more than to Dr. Lindsley. For a year after I was admitted to the first degree in the Arts, he most kindly directed my studies; and to his recommendation chiefly I owed my appointment, first as Tutor, and then as Professor in the College. Others of his pupils doubtless can speak of like kindnesses shown to them; but none can have more reason than I had to revere his memory."
There are abundant testimonials to show, that his whole career at Princeton was one of extraordinary success and brilliancy. His promptness and energy of character, his tact as a disciplinarian, his accurate and extensive learning, his classic polish as a preacher, his dignified and scholarly bearing, his enthusiastic zeal for letters,—all these and other characteristics contributed to increase bis popularity among the students, and thus to spread his reputation over the
country. Had he remained at Princeton, he would, no doubt, have carried out, at an early day, many schemes of authorship which he had already projected, and which seem to have been defeated by his removal to a part of the country where the popular specch was then more in demand than the learned treatise. He had, in fact, at this time, some works ready, or nearly ready, for the press, which were never published. This was probably the case with his “Course of Lectures on Greek Literature,” delivered during this period, and, as he tells us, intended for publication. It was at all events so with another work. We find a Prospectus among his papers, bearing date of September, 1821, with the names of some sixty subscribers, in which D. & E. Fenton, of Trenton, New Jersey, propose to publish, in two volumes octavo, a “Course of Lectures on the Arts, Science and Literature of the Ancients. By Prof. Lindsley, of the College of New Jersey.” At the time these large and learned treatises were written and ready for the press he had not passed his thirty-fifth year; and it is curious, but needless now, to conjecture, what a career of authorship might have awaited him, had his life been spent at the East, instead of the West. His case, however, is a striking illustration of the manner in which men of the very first talents and attainments, once fully engaged in the more active and diversified duties of a pioneer life in the South and West, are compelled to relinquish projects of literary and scientific labour which might have filled the world with their fame, and to live comparatively unknown and unappreciated. It is the necessary lot of all labourers on new fields. They have the consolation, however, of preparing the way for others who shall come after them, to reap the fruit, while they honour the memory of such faithful toil. Still, these early habits of study, and these rich stores of learning, in Dr. Lindsley's case, were by no means lost. They only prepared him the better for that great work to which his life was to be devoted on a different and perhaps more important field.
It will not be out of place to introduce, in this connection, the two following communications from his early companions in study, recently received in reply to our inquiries touching his standing at Princeton and his preceding history - the one from Dr. Isaac V. Brown, of