Princeton was in its beginnings the most migratory of our older colleges. One might almost call it ambulatory, counting its origin from that of the "Log College" of William Tennent, at "the Forks of the Neshaminy," in 1726. But that were to go back to "the twilight of fable." The real foundation of the College of New Jersey dates from the royal charter of 1746, the same year in which the founder of the Log College, in which so many of the founders of what is now Princeton received "what colleging was theirs." The ruling motive to "the instruction of youth in the learned languages and in the liberal arts and sciences," was clearly enough the same which prevailed in the founding of Harvard and Yale, the provision of an instructed "instructed ministry," native to the soil. Four of the incorporators were "ministers of the Gospel," as against three laymen. In order to obtain pupils, the incorporators resorted to what, even now, would be regarded as the undignified expedient of advertising for them in the New York papers, or, rather, the New York paper, which they did in February, 1747, announcing the opening of the college "the fourth week in May next, at Elizabeth Town." Elizabeth was chosen as the home of the first president, Rev. Jonathan Dickinson. When he died, a few months later, there was nothing to keep the college at Elizabeth, and it was moved, with a Thespian cartful of impedimenta, to Newark, the home of the equally Rev. Aaron Burr. Here was celebrated the first commencement, in November, 1748, with a graduating class of six. In the previous September the college had received an enlarged charter from Governor Belcher, who showed a real and enlightened interest in the project. Apparently the young institution was prepared to settle and establish itself at whatever point in the heart of New Jersey, and not too far from the dividing line between the old "Jerseys"-East and West, as they were known,(though North and South would be geographically more accurate)-might offer the greatest inducements. It made overtures to New Brunswick. But it laid down an ultimatum that it must be provided with "a thousand pounds proclamation money, ten acres of land contiguous to the college, and two hundred acres of woodland"; these latter primarily for fuel, no doubt, and secondarily for profit. New Brunswick did not snatch at its privilege, possibly suspecting the strictly Calvinistic theology of the incorporators, and was fain to content itself, some sixteen years later, with the establishment of Rutgers, or "queens," as a seminary of the Dutch Reformed Church. Princeton, mainly, as it appears, under the lead of Nathaniel Fitz Randolph, a benefactor commemorated in the "Fitz Randolph gates" of the actual Princeton, took the chance New Brunswick had abandoned. The College of New Jersey had found a local habitation, as well as a name, and Nassau Hall, which would have been Belcher Hall but for the modest refusal of the royal governor, began to rise in 1754. It was in all ways a fortunate decision, the more fortunate that Princeton was a Quaker settlement and could not be supposed to be in sympathy with that rigid Calvinism which presided over the beginnings of Princeton, and is supposed still to preside over its theological inculcations with a rigor not elsewhere equalled. The taint of "Arminianism" may have spread among the Dutch settlements on the Passaic and the Hackensack and the Raritan to the northward. Nay, there was probably more than a "trace" of it in the Dutch settlement to the southward, on the Delaware, among the prevailing "Presbyterians, Quakers and Anabaptists." It is traditional at Princeton that when, at the celebration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Harvard, Dr. Holmes read his verses setting forth the liberalizing and mellowing influence which Harvard had exerted on her younger sisters, and came to the couplet:
O'er Princeton's sands the far reflections steal Where mighty Edwards stamped his iron heel,President McCosh arose and stamped his iron heel, shaking the dust from it on the platform as he stalked indignant thence. It would require a quantitative analysis of the dust to determine how much it was shaken in indignation at the proposition that Princeton had been liberalized, and how much at the proposition that it was Harvard which had liberalized it. The beloved and venerated "Jimmie" has himself become so much a tradition at Princeton that it gives the present chronicler a sense of antiquity to recall that he witnessed and reported the inauguration and the inaugural of 1868. It was only seventeen years before that that Thackeray had voiced in "Punch" the assumed indignation of young Ireland at the importation of Dr. McCosh from Scotland to the chair of logic in the "orange" Queen's College at Belfast:
As I think of the insult that's done to this nation Red tears of rivinge from me faytures I wash, And uphold in this pome, to the world's daytistation, The sleeves that appointed Professor McCosh. * * * On the logic of Saxons there's little reliance And, rather from Saxon than gather its rules, I'd stamp under feet the base book of his science, And spit on his chair as he taught in the schools. Oh false Sir John Kane! Is it thus that you praych me? I think all your Queen's Universitees Bosh; And if youv'e no neetive Professor to taych me, I scawurn to be learned by the Saxon McCosh.However rigid the dogmatic theology which one sets out to inculcate in this "sweet and cheerful country," it could hardly help losing some of the asperities which it might retain amid the mountains of Switzerland or of Scotland. As George Alfred Townsend sings:
But quiet nooks like these unman The grim predestinarian Whose soul expands to mountain views.As a matter of fact, I have reason to believe that an open and avowed sublapsarian might find himself very comfortable as a resident of Princeton, unless, of course, he should take it into his head to become a too-candid candidate for the ministry. It is, at any rate, fortunate that the migratory College of New Jersey did not alight permanently at either of its two first roosts, at Newark or at Elizabeth. One can by no means see a great institution of learning developing along its own lines at either of those bustling and commercialized suburbs. It would long since have been submerged. What the learned Dr. Johnson remarks of the site of St. Andrew's he might equally have remarked of the site of Princeton:
St. Andrew's seems to be a place eminently adapted to study and education, being situated in a populous, yet a cheap country, and exposing the minds and manners of young men neither to the levity and dissoluteness of a capital city, nor to the gross luxury of a town of commerce, places naturally unpropitious to learning; in one the desire of knowledge easily gives way to the love of pleasure, and in the other is in danger of yielding to the love of money.As to the "levity and dissoluteness of a capital city," "Artemus Ward" was able half a century ago, to report some plausibility that "Harvard College is pleasantly situated in the barroom of the Parker House," whereas to attain even "the gross luxury of a town of commerce," the evasive Princetonian has to undergo an hour's trolleying to Trenton.
Meanwhile, Dr. Holmes's "Princeton's sands" is by no means graphic. It calls up an image of a dreary level, very different from this prettily rolling country, intersected with gently rising, rounded ridges, in the valleys between which flow rivulets crossed with admirable and picturesque old bridges of honest brown masonry, in refreshing contrast to the modern products of pontifical ironmongery. an altogether eligible site for a place of education. "a college situated in a purer air," as Clarendon has it about Falkland's house. Princeton is perhaps the largest American college in so small of a town. At all events, it completely dominates the town, to the great advantage of both. No wonder that, what with the charms of the quiet rural landscape and the "purer air," what also with the charm of the "still air of delightful studies," of the atmosphere of culture, lettered ease and refinement, and, finally, with the growing charm of an appropriate and cloistral architecture, all offered within ready reach of New York and Philadelphia, Princeton should have been becoming increasingly popular as a place of residence and retirement for people who find they can live where they will. To quote Townsend again:
When we have raged our little part, And wearied out of strife and art, Oh, could we bring to these still shores The peace they have who harbor here, And rest upon our echoing oars, And float adown this tranquil sphere-Not all the seekers for a harbor are Princeton men. Witness the memorable exception of Grover Cleveland, who casually visited Princeton and thereupon, an old man broken with the storms of state, came here to lay his weary bone among them. But among the returners are also sons of Princeton, who have come back to become the almi filii of their alma mater, and to repay with accrued interest the benefits they are sensible of having received at her hands, to become trustees or workers for the university. There is no occasion to offend their modesty by mentioning their names, which are familiar to all Princeton and to all Princetonians. But one cannot pass over such an evidence of the loyalty which Princeton has managed to inspire, and which is manifested by all her children in proportion to their ability. One of the enthusiastic architects of the architectural "instauration" now in progress has been overheard in his enthusiasm to observe "There is no Princeton man who will not rob his wife and children for the benefit of Princeton." So much one cannot help feeling and saying, even when he is dealing with the outward and visible signs whereby the inward and spiritual grace of Princeton is made manifest.
One defect in the natural constitution of Princeton has lately been made good by art. The landscape does not, at least did not, include a waterscape. The defect prevented Princeton from making a figure in aquatics comparable with her figure in other branches of athletics. But, by some felicity, it was put into the heart of Mr. Carnegie who, according to Lord Rosebery, "scatters benefactions as a locomotive scatters sparks," to drop a particularly glowing and illuminating ember upon Princeton, and to repair the deficiencies of nature. Carnegie Lake supplies the missing feature in the landscape, a long and shining reach of what is apparently a full-fed river, spanned with low-arched bridges, which exactly fits and fills the landscape. For the practical purpose of its creation, it is much wider than the Isis or the Cam, affords a clear three miles straightway, and gives breadth enough to afford a lively competition on even terms without resorting to the makeshift of the "bump," while, in the meantime, affording an auditorium, or, rather, spectatorium, adequate to the requirements of the entire permanent and transient population of Princeton. It is unique among college benefactions; perhaps unique, since the imperial Roman "tank" that Martial celebrated, and one is quite at a loss to know what could have been done more both to the picturesque and to the practical purpose with the money that it cost.
From almost the day of its final alighting at Princeton, the College of New Jersey took its stand as the leading place of education for the Middle Colonies. The beginnings of King's College, since Columbia, were still eighteen years in the future and the early years of Columbia were hampered by difficulties of which it will be time to speak when we come to them. The theology of Princeton was perhaps not very distinguishable from the variety of Calvinism inculcated at Harvard or at Yale. But it was at least not inculcated nasally by "Yankees." One must recur to Cooper's "Satanstoe" and its successors to understand the bitterness of those provincial prejudices. Upon those prejudices, in spite of his own enslavement to one set of them, Cooper is a first-rate authority. By dint of the combined forces of imagination and tradition, he did manage to retroject himself into "the dark backward and abysm" of those Colonial squabbles of two generations before his own. And we may quite trust him when he says that, in the middle of the eighteenth century:
There is, and ever has been, so wide a difference in our customs, origins, religious opinions, and histories, as to cause a broad moral line, in the way of feeling, to be drawn between the colony of New York and those that lie east of the Byram River.(There may be readers to whom it is necessary to explain that the Byram river is still on the map and denotes the stream which empties into Long Island Sound between Portchester and Greenwich, and thus divides Westchester County from Connecticut.) The hero of "Satanstoe" Cornelius Littlepage, born in 1737, was naturally according to the habits of those times, "prepared for the college" at the age of fourteen, or in 1751. A family conclave decided his destination. Harvard was too far off. "We had the choice of two," says Littlepage:
These colleges are Yale, in Connecticut, and Nassau Hall, which was then at Newark, New Jersey, after having been a short time at Elizabethtown, but which has since been established at Princeton.There seems to be a small anachronism here. "Nassau Hall" did not exist as a name before it existed as a building, when, as we have seen, it would have been Belcher Hall but for the Governor's modesty, and the students were not moved from Newark to Princeton until after Cooper's hero was graduated. But the anachronism is immaterial to the story. The family conclave decided in favor of New Jersey, in spite of the mother's apprehensions of "that terrible voyage between New York and Powles' Hook," the same which the ferry now negotiates in twenty minutes every twenty minutes. It is interesting to note that the final decision seems to have been determined, in the minds of the worthies of Westchester, by their sense of the barbarous and abominable manner in which the English language was pronounced in the colony of Connecticut. Meanwhile, the College of New Jersey had a local habitation soon after it had a name. The final and "definitive" charter, Belcher's charter, dates from 1748. Nassau Hall was opened for the reception of students in 1756. It is thus but four years younger than "Old South Middle," in New Haven, thirty-six years younger than Massachusetts Hall in Cambridge. But it is architecturally far more interesting than either or both. For it was the earliest college building really designed as such in the English colonies of North America (with the single exception of the college building at Williamsburgh, "at first modeled by Sir Christopher Wren," but destroyed by fire before 1723). Of this building we know nothing, though it would be interesting to have Sir Christopher's idea of a college in Virginia in the time of good Queen Anne. But Massachusetts Hall, in its original estate, and Connecticut Hall were evidently the works of the untutored Colonial carpenter, magnifying the dwelling houses they were in the habit of constructing, with reference only to enlarged "accommodation," and without reference to the expression of the special purpose. Nassau Hall was so distinct a satisfaction and expression in its very ground plan of the requirements of a college, with its subdivision into chapel, library and recitation rooms that it impressed itself as such upon President Ezra Stiles, of Yale, as he was traveling southward in 1754, when only the foundation were visible, so as to induce him to sketch the plans and note the dimensions in his diary. It was the only college building in the colonies really planned as such, excepting St. John's College at Annapolis, projected, it is true, by Governor Bladen in 1744, and long known as "The Governor's Folly," planned by a Scotch architect named Duff, but not completed until 1785, or twenty years later than Nassau Hall. What the collaboration amounted to of "Dr. Shippen" with "that approved architect, Mr. Robert Smith, of Philadelphia" there is, of course, now no means of determining. But it is a well-established fact that in the Middle Colonies, almost throughout the eighteenth century, a dilettante interest in the fine art of architecture was a branch of classical knowledge much affected as part of "a liberal education." Thus, Dr. Kearsley, a practicing physician of Philadelphia, was the architect of record of Christ Church, and Andrew Hamilton, the leader of the Philadelphia bar of what came afterwards to be known as Independence Hall. It is not very likely that any of these cultivated amateurs could have put their architectural notions in shape through their own drawings. What they probably did was to lend their libraries to the mechanics who actually did the work, and to give these mechanics the benefit of their suggestions on points of taste. In the next generation, Thomas Jefferson, himself one of the architectural amateurs and critics, complaining that "the genius of architecture seems to have shed its maledictions over this land," was also to complain that "workmen could scarcely be found here capable of drawing an order." But this would not much have mattered to Jefferson if he had been "capable of drawing an order" himself. Mr. Glenn Brown, in vindicating the "Dr." Thornton of the next generation after Nassau Hall as the real designer of the Capitol at Washington, has, indeed, established that Dr. Thornton could and did make executable drawings. But we cannot go far wrong in assuming that Robert Smith designed Nassau Hall, and that the services of "Dr. Shippen" were rather suggestive and tentative than even properly consultative.
Whatever its authorship, Nassau Hall was well designed, so well that it has continued to serve well some considerable part of its original function through this century and a half since its erection. It has also served other public functions more than passably well, since it was the meeting-place of the Continental Congress for some five months (July-November 1783), in the last stage of the Revolution, and accommodated that migratory body. For its own purposes, it comprised the requisites of a college, having a "hall" which was also a chapel, "with a stage for the use of the students in their public exhibitions," a library, "furnished at present" (1764) "with about 1,200 volumes," and recitation rooms, with dormitory accommodations for almost 150 students, "computing three to a chamber." Which is to say that, a century and a half ago, it united the functions now divided among Marquand, Alexander, McCosh, Dickinson, Whig, Clio, the two libraries and half a dozen dormitories, and accommodated them so well that it was not until the nineteenth century was well begun that Princeton seems to have found the need of further expansion. In the meantime, as may be supposed, the "two hundred acres of woodland" had been pretty well denuded for the benefit of shivering students and instructors, and the field of expansion was open. A building which served its purpose so well and so long must have been well planned. It was also well named. Governor Belcher's modesty stood the young institution in good stead. It was not only that there was no American opposition to the "Protestant Succession" secured by the Revolution of 1688, no longing for the return of the Stuarts in any colony north of the Old Dominion. It was also that the reminder in the name that a prince of Holland had occupied the British throne was the most consolatory consideration that could have been presented to the Dutchmen of New Jersey and the adjoining colonies and conciliated them even under the experience of the outrageous Cornbury, undertaking to establish, now by intimidation and now by trick and device, a church as alien to the general sentiment of the population as ever was the English Church in Ireland. There are few buildings within the present limits of the United States more venerable than Nassau Hall. And it is all the more fortunate that it should be visibly worthy or its historical distinction, as, upon the whole, it is. A seemly and dignified edifice, extensive enough to be impressive, and crowned with a feature denoting a public, if not particularly its public purpose, a feature, moreover, in scale and design appropriate to the substructure. The ends have a quaint and unsought picturesqueness which is adventitious and accrued long after the completion of the original fabric, since they are not indicated on the eighteenth-century prints. They are, in fact, small enclosed stairways, to which subordinate entrances to the ends give access, and they effectively decorate spaces that would be bald and blank without them. One supposes they must have been added after the fire of 1855. A still more effective, if a more conscious, modern enrichment is the conversion of the old chapel, which projected from the rear of the original building, into a "faculty room," which recalls the chapels of the "classic" colleges of Oxford and Cambridge. The remodeled interior, with its lunetted openings and its tall and rich wainscoting of carved oak, is admirably and liberally carried out, and so entirely in keeping with the spirit of the building that one feels at once that this is what "Dr. Shippen and Robert Smith" would have done with chief showroom of their building, with the two provisos- if they could have afforded it and if they had known how. Already the decoration, by portraiture of Princetonian worthies and benefactors, is interesting and effective, and one foresees that it will increase as the age of Princeton increases and the piety of Princeton is maintained. Opposite the doorway of Nassau Hall is another enrichment, the gateway in grateful memory of Nathaniel Fitz Randolph, the particular benefactor who seems to have been most instrumental in bringing Princeton to accede to the terms of the College of New Jersey, and who, for his own part, gave the "four and a half acres on the broad street" upon which Nassau Hall itself stands. The memorial, evidently, is "dedicated particularly" at Nassau Hall, to which it is entirely congruous and appropriate, ignoring, questionably, but possibly quite properly, the complete architectural change which has come over the spirit of Princeton since Nassau Hall constituted the college. And perhaps one might, in any case, have asked for eagles less naturalistic and more conventionalized and architecturalized, the actual birds tending to recall Sheridan's criticism on one of the authors of the addresses at the reopening of the rebuilt Drury Lane that he had produced "a poulterer's description of a phoenix."
The interest of Nassau Hall is thus architectural as well as historical. The interest of the only collegiate building contemporary with it is exclusively historical. This was "the President's House" from 1756 to 1879, when "Prospect," the "villa in the Italian style" of the fifth and sixth decades of the nineteenth century, was acquired for the president of the university, and the old residence of the presidents became the official abode of the dean of the college. To Princetonians, the old mansion is almost as venerable a relic as Nassau Hall itself. The official residence of Witherspoon, Edwards, Aaron Burr (the elder of the name, not Iscariot) and their successors for a century, could not fail to be so. "Mighty Edwards," by the way, though his name does well enough to point a tag of couplet, had no chance to "stamp his iron heel" on the teaching of Princeton, since he arrived to take presidency in February, 1758, and died the following month. But quite his brand of theology continued for some generations to be stamped upon the youth of Princeton. To the outward eye, the house has little distinction, being a mansion of the like of which the New Jersey of its period contained many examples, and still retains some, in various parts of the State.
Apparently, Nassau Hall and the President's House continued to comprise the architecture of the college until within the nineteenth century, when a third building was added (1803), originally for recitation rooms, the library, and the two literary and debating societies. Since all these requirements have been accommodated elsewhere, it has become the "university offices." It is quite without architectural interest, but happily, also, without architectural pretension or offensiveness, being quite the kind of thing the unambitious builder would naturally adjoin to Nassau Hall, to which it conforms apparently in material, and certainly in color.
Neither the architectural troubles nor the architectural triumphs of Princeton had yet begun. Indeed, they were not to begin, the troubles, until after the middle of the century, for "West College," erected in 1836, was still, in effect, the product of the "Colonial" tradition, under which building were built when they were needed, and by mechanics who aspired only to meet the necessities of the case, adding such classic garnishing as their employers were willing to pay for. In this case, the classical garnish was omitted, and, indeed, any pretense of architectural embellishment. This "Muse's factory" was a mere parallelopiped of rough and honest masonry, with holes for window where they were needed, and covered with a roof, whether of single or double pitch, into the mind of the designer of which entered no other thoughts than those of shelter and economy. In the actual mansard roof of the building, it is true there were added the purposes of additional accommodation and of architectural effectiveness. But this is obviously of much later date than the building below it, and the architectural purpose is so far from being attained that one would much prefer the building with its original roof - straight-pitched or gambrel, as the case may have been. The class of which it is a specimen, being simply the satisfaction of practical requirements, if not attractive cannot be repulsive; and, such erections, if they do not help the architecture of the environment in which they appear, do not hinder it. The time may, indeed, come when their room will be more desirable than their company. But in the meantime they may stand without offence, and if they are less desirable than real architecture, they are immensely preferable to mock architecture. The baldness of West College loses nothing, in fact, gains much, by its juxtaposition to the much more "architecturesque" Reunion Hall, erected in 1870 to commemorate the reunion of the two "schools" of the Presbyterian Church, although, architecturally, the building is rather a monument of the schism. The "architecturesque" purpose is made manifest not only in the variation of color which accrues from the quoining of the rough gray walls with red brick, but in the preparation in the substructure for the variations in the treatment of the roof, including the acutely pointed turrets which flank, not successfully, the not more successful two-storied mansard of the central pavilion. On the whole, one much prefers the handiwork of the untutored and unpretending mechanic of 1836.
(There was, in fact, no noticeable addition to the architecture of Princeton between 1836 and 1870, which is perhaps as well for the architecture.) But during the eighth decade of the nineteenth century the additions were many and noteworthy. They began in the previous decade with Mr. Post's "Dickinson Hall" (1870), afterwards altered under the direction of Mr. Lindsey, a work of which one may repeat the conjecture as to its author that "since the ardor of composition is remitted, he no longer numbers it among his happy effusions." 1870-1880 was not a very lucky period for an "instauration." Most of the sensibility and enthusiasm of the architectural profession in this country was in those years directed to the promotion of the Gothic revival, and it was, naturally, among the sensitive and cultivated practitioners of architecture that Princeton, like other American colleges, sought its architects. And it so happened that the eruption of the Gothic revival pretty closely synchronized with the addition of "collegebred" young men to the practice of architecture. The mechanic of Colonial times and the amateur and dilettante of those times, who, as we have seen, were apt to divide among themselves the designs of "important works" beyond the scope of the unaided mechanic, had begun to succumb, as to such works, to the educated and lettered architect. Assuredly this change was full of promise for architecture. But it had its drawbacks. The promising young architects of that day had mostly fallen under the spell of Ruskin's eloquence, and had taken to architecture on what one may call literary grounds. They had, naturally, taken to Gothic. Now, Gothic architecture is a noun of multitude, signifying many. But the "Victorian Gothic," promoted by Ruskin's preachments, laid very special stress, in general, on the elicitation of "individuality" in the designer, on individuality even to the exclusion of comity, of uniformity. And in particular, it laid stress on the very individualistic Gothic of north Italy, which was distinguished, among other things, by the free external use of color. These were two rather dangerous inculcations. They were not altogether Ruskin's, since he distinctly inculcated the necessity of the adoption of a particular mode or phase of historical Gothic as a starting-point for future work. But the net result was, upon the whole, mischievous. It tended, in its effect upon young men who had been inspired to adopt architecture as something more and other than a means of livelihood, to enforce Emerson's inculcation: "Trust thyself! Every heart vibrates to that iron string"; whereas, as a matter of fact, when you see the results of an architect of insufficient training and discipline "trusting himself," you have rather, an unregenerate longing to see him vibrating to a hempen string. It were a safer inculcation, at least in so social and civic an art as architecture, that after you have undergone your academic discipline, and learned to conform, whatever individuality or originality you possess will come out in spite of you. Will come out, that is to say, unless the art you undertake is altogether a matter of convention and tradition. And here is, in fact, the meaning and value, and the perennial utility of mediæval architecture, that it is not and never was an architecture of mere convention and tradition, like the hieratic architecture of Egypt or like the Roman classic, from Vitruvius to this day. Throughout the thousand years through which it held sway, and remained alive, under the names of Romanesque or of Gothic, through all its progresses and all its retrogressions, it was an architecture of craftsmanship and not of formula; it was founded on the nature of things, and not on conventional assumptions.
All the same, too much individuality, too little conformity, was no doubt the defect of the architecture of Princeton for that fateful decade. Her new buildings were all in highly "Victorian" Gothic. Manifestly, they all stood in need of being trained and brought into subjection by some necessity of conformity. The inculcated necessity of "individuality" was reinforced by the natural reluctance of collegiate bodies to restrain the beneficence of benefactors by looking gift-horses in the mouth. Gothic is so comprehensive a term, and "Victorian Gothic," in particular, so free and "eclectic," that it is no wonder that the most progressive and interesting works of that period suggested rather what Mr. Cram calls "the Gothic quest" than the Gothic find, rather a departure than an arrival. The ambitious young architects were, in fact, so many Japhets in search of a father, and some of the orphaned attempts at filiation were pathetic, while some were comic. And yet there was much cleverness, and there remains today much interest in those sporadic and imperfectly related buildings. I have elsewhere spoken of the late William A. Potter's contributions to what is, unfortunately, an assemblage and not an ensemble. The first of them, the Chancellor Green Library (1873), which was a restudy of its architect's elder brother' early restudy of the baptistry of Pisa, is evidently "Victorian" and Ruskinian, by reason of its polychromy and its variety of design. But one would by no means like to see it go, even from its adjunction to the sober monochrome of the larger building of a quarter of a century later, which its author's riper judgment justly concluded to be more to the purpose of a university library. And certainly one would not wish to see the School of Science demolished in favor of any imaginable building for which its room might be desired. One might, indeed, be willing to spare the gabled front, of which the fenestration is by no means so rhythmical or so "inevitable" as to impose itself upon his consciousness. But he would be very unwilling to lose that saddle-backed tower, so clearly foretold from the bottom, of which the massive expanse of the base is so ingeniously and happily diminished into the attenuation of the tower by its successive offsets. That remains an ornament to the campus of Princeton, a highly picturesque object, one of the worthy monuments of the Gothic revival in America, and an indisputable work of architecture.
Doubtless the School of Science suffers, as do all the Princetonian buildings of its period, from the want of any "consensus" about style and material, either imposed on the several architects of the campus or arrived at by agreement among themselves. But evidently that failure in comity cannot be imputed to any one of the architects in particular who ought to have been collaborating, but who were, in fact, competing. One of them, Mr. Robertson, was Mr. Potter's partner of those years, though I believe that all the works of the partners at Princeton were individual and "respective," and not joint. Consider what the condition then was of the campus of Princeton and how little or rather nothing, there was to which to conform, "compare it with the bettering of the time," and I think you will find Mr. Robertson's "Witherspoon Hall" becomes not only an interesting, but almost an exemplary performance. It is, no doubt, highly unconformable. There is, no doubt, a superfluity of "features" which do not always compose a countenance, and one may reasonably wish for a good deal less of variety, even at the risk of the monotony which the designer was evidently anxious to avoid, in particular for a much less tormented top and skyline. But the animation is not without dignity, the materials are well chosen and combined, and the treatment throughout is so straightforward, structural and expressive that one would not willingly miss Witherspoon altogether from the campus. Mr. Robertson's other contribution to the architecture of the campus it seems that we are shortly to miss, in the interest of the extension to the corner of the double quadrangle of which Campbell Hall and Sage Hall form the existing half. This demolition will hardly entail any regret, even on the part of the author, since the architectural fitness of what is now "University Hall" was entirely related to its original of a university hotel, and vanished when it was abandoned for that purpose, now many years ago. Murray Hall was another Gothic addition of that period, but not so "Victorian," being monochromatic and seemingly rather more tame than wild of aspect, though in fact, it has since been remodeled partly out of recognition to conform to its later neighbor, Dodge Hall. Edwards Hall is also a studiously quiet work. Nobody will pretend that it is pretty, but nobody can deny that it is decent nor that it attains the praise of inoffensiveness, beyond which it scarcely aspires; even that it has character, the character of the "grim predestinarian," whose name it bears. The prevalence of the revival ended with Marquand Chapel. The author's name guarantees that this is an "individual" and unconventional phase of Gothic, and there may have presided over the design, likewise, a sense of the necessity that the chapel of Princeton should not suggest an Episcopalian place of worship. This latter condition was, at any rate, observed both inside and out. Interiorly, the chapel is distinctly and exclusively enough a "meetinghouse," an auditorium with a tribune, and with some interesting detail and decoration. Outwardly, it is a sprightly and aspiring edifice of devout, if not of "ecclesiastical," connotations, and fitly enough concludes the list of examples of architectural dissent.
There was no very notable or "architecturesque" addition to the architecture of Princeton between 1881, the year of the Marquand Chapel, and 1892, the year of Alexander Hall. This, again, is very likely as well, since any additions that had been made in that decade would probably have been made in the Richardsonian Romanesque, which, at the best, would have introduced another refractory and incongruous element into the architecture of the university and at the worst would have imposed upon it some very crude and clumsy works. And yet Alexander Hall, the single specimen of Richardsonian Romanesque at Princeton, is by no means to be regretted. It is a design upon the whole quite worthy of the robust master himself, though, in fact, suggested by the very incongruous example bestowed upon (Yale by Bruce Price in Osborn Hall) some three years before, upon which the Princeton building is a very distinct advance. The amphitheatrical sweep which is quite meaningless at New Haven gains point and relevancy at Princeton in becoming the entrance to a rounded auditorium. The opposite front, indeed, being flat and gabled, entails an awkwardness, by reason if its width and "lowth," and of the sprawling of its gable, which is the chief defect of the design. It seems that it would have been better to cover this wall with a hipped than with a gabled roof, although the substitution would have entailed some trying problems of both exterior and interior treatment. For all that, Alexander is one of the architectural possessions of Princeton, a vigorous, consistent and refined piece of work, carried out, without and within, with an amplitude of means which the artistic skill employed upon them prevents at any point from degenerating into mere ostentation or sumptuosity. An entire college in this manner would not lack interest!
It is odd that the very next essay in the architecture of Princeton should have been a reversion to "pure classic." It is a far cry backward from Provençal Romanesque, through what Freeman calls "the classical or transitions Roman" to the Hellenic source. The societies which the temples house date back almost to Nassau Hall itself, and, if they could have commanded habitations of their own, would not doubt have commanded them in the prevailing Georgian manner. They could hardly have ordered them in so "correct" a classic as Mr. Page Brown's twin temples, for the "American Whig Society," among whose early debaters were James Madison and Philip Freneau, was organized in 1769, and the Cliosophic Society, of whose early athletes were Oliver Ellsworth and Aaron Burr the younger.
Here is another anomaly that one cannot regret. It often seems that the reproducer of the temple is abdicating his function as a designer. But the architect of these little prostylar Ionic temples, unpretending as they are, brought something of his own. The visible bonding and implication of the masonry in marble are modern and individual glosses, and have the effect of giving something of interest and of organization to the otherwise blank walls of the cella, which, in the originals, by hypothesis, have none of those qualities.
But the "instauration" of the architecture of Princeton, the movement which makes the place so interesting that it is at present about the most attractive architectural Mecca in the United States, was begun only thirteen years ago, when the University Library and Blair Hall were concurrently under construction. That the architecture of a university, or even of a college, should have something of uniformity and consistency, not only from year to year, but from generation to generation, that buildings in sight of one another should be designed with reference to one another - these are propositions sufficiently obvious, one would say. There is not a "college yard" or campus in the country, of half a century's duration, that does not enforce them upon any open sense. And yet there are so very few college yards that show any recognition of them. That they are recognized now at Princeton gives that institution a distinction unique among the elders. When a billionaire presents an institution with a tabulla rasa, and the billionaire or the institution say to the architect, "Write," it is his own fault or his privation if he does not write something worth reading. But in the older institutions there is so very much in the way, so many practical obstructions, so many sentimental obstructions, to the realization of anything that deserves to be called an ideal. The historic sentiment is as worthy as the artistic sentiment. The res gestae are not and by right ought not to be ignorable. An ancient institution cannot if it would, and should not if it could, regard its possession as a "clean slate," as if it were a brand new foundation in Illinois or California or Texas. Where, in fact, can you find more architectural incongruities that in the secular architectural progresses and retrogressions of Oxford or Cambridge? And yet, how these incongruities are overruled and blended into a single, harmonious and charming composite image! The architectural enthusiast is in danger of becoming an historical vandal. He who demands his "clean sweep" is prone to forget that his own cherished new fashion may yet become an old fashion, depending for its preservation upon the same appeal to the historic sentiment which he for his part ignores or rejects. He forgets his Browning, "Three and twenty leaders of revolutions have I seen"! What was up to the standard of its own time is worth preserving at least as an "historical document." Of course, this does not protect mere incompetency, mere illiteracy, mere crudity. Of course, it does not forbid the considerate attempt to convert an architectural chaos into an architectural cosmos. Of course, it does not prevent the adoption, even the imposition, of a mode of building which has for generations been recognized as the most appropriate to the particular purpose, which "has pleased many and pleased long." And, in fact, it is precisely this process which gives Princeton its unique architectural interest. Mr. Potter's adjunction of the Pyne University Library to his own Chancellor Green Library of a quarter of a century earlier is an exemplary performance. An architect may be trusted to treat his own youthful indiscretions with all the tenderness of which the case admits, and the newer, soberer, monochromatic and scholastic Gothic exhibits no contempt for the older, more vivacious, polychromatic and "eclectic." The practical "scheme" of libraries had, in the interval, changed, but the old library is still found capable of excellent service as a reading-room, and is kept as well in countenance as may be as a work of architecture, the ground tint of the old being in effect the monochrome of the new, while the connection between the two is of an excellently reconciling tendency. A dignified and appropriate work.
But undoubtedly it was Blair Hall that fixed the style of the newer Princeton. Nothing could be happier than the barrier of building that screens the campus from the railroad. And when we have climbed the broad stairway and passed through the groined arch of the gateway, we are unmistakably in a cloistral seclusion:
The world and wars behind us stop.The confrontation of a college with a railroad is commonly an architectural as well as a practical difficulty. Here, by a stroke of genius, it becomes an architectural opportunity. And the subsequent works of the architects of Blair Hall, still skirting the railroad, the Stafford Little Hall and the Gymnasium, continue the scarped and bastioned rampart against the world without. Conformably to which function one finds or fancies a sterner and grimmer treatment of the outer than of the inner walls of the dormitories, according to Ruskin's praise of the domestic building at Verona, with "its richest work given to the windows that look out on the narrowest streets and most silent gardens." Nothing could be more delightful, nothing more "collegiate," than the aspect of these edifices. One feels, in looking at them, how pedantic, how puerile it would be, in letting the charm of them sink into him, to fall back on his logic and point out the irrationality, for example, of a crenellated parapet at the base of a sharply sloping roof. The things have so perfectly that blend of the monastic and domestic which make the "collegiate" character that, from the moment they were exhibited, the style of Princeton was fixed as Tudor Gothic. Princeton would have had to be very insensible to reject so plain a "leading," as insensible, shall we say, as Yale showed herself when she reverted to the classic of the bicentennial buildings after the object-lessons of Vanderbilt and Phelps? It would have been a sinning against a flood of light.
Happily for whoever visits Princeton, that insensibility was not hers. The indication was at once accepted and imposed. The next building after these admirable buildings of Messrs. Cope & Stewardson was Dodge Hall, adjoining the twenty-year-old Murray, which was subjected to considerable remodeling to modernize, or, more properly, to antiquate it, conforming to it in material and treatment, as well as to the Marquand Chapel at one side and to the new library opposite. One has a kindness for that fat, dumpy, comfortable tower, and even for the mansarded edifice which it tends to dignify. The next was the "`79 Hall," which is one of the most brilliant successes of the new Princeton and tends, quite as strongly as their own work, to vindicate the choice and imposition of a style by Messrs. Cope & Stewardson. The departure from their choice of material in favor of red brick and light stone supplies another phase of the delightful "collegiate" manner, and, one supposes, imposes itself as the material for the east side of the campus, as the monochrome of light, rough stone for the west. It goes far to vindicate its style as the only domestic manner. Anthony Trollope warms into unwonted enthusiasm in his admiration for the Tudor building. Hear him:
It must be equally clear that it looks out on a trim mown lawn, through three quadrangular windows with stone mullions, each window divided into a larger portion at the bottom and a smaller portion at the top, and each portion again divided into five by perpendicular stone supporters. There may be windows which give a better light that such as these, and it may be, as my utilitarian friend observes, that the giving of light is the desired object of a window. I will not argue the point with him. Indeed, I cannot. But I shall not the less die in the assured conviction that no sort or description of window is capable of imparting half so much happiness to mankind as that which had been adopted at Ullathorne court. "What, not an oriel?" says Miss Diana de Middleage? No, Miss Diana, not even an oriel window. It has not about it so perfect a feeling of quiet English homely comfort. Let oriel windows grace a college or the half-public mansion of a potent peer; but for the sitting-room of quiet country ladies, of ordinary homely folk, nothing can equal the square mullioned windows of the Tudor architects.The architects of the new Princeton have made full and excellent use of the novelist's permission to use oriels "for a college." And, indeed, one does not see the point of his prohibition of them for domestic purposes. The oriels of the gateway towers of `79 would doubtless be pretentious for a modest mansion. But who will venture to say that the north end of `79, with its oriel, is not as truly and even more delightfully domestic than the south end, from which that feature is omitted? It is true that the prescription of five-light windows is disobeyed at Princeton in favor of two or three or four, and that the injunction of an unequal vertical division is hardly attended to at all, and one can perceive no disastrous results from the omission. On the other hand, the small pane is accepted as obligatory. Mr. Seddon tells us of an enthusiastic English Gothic revivalist, in the high and palmy days of the Victorian revival, who laid it down that "plate glass was emanation from the jaws of hell." These architects would, apparently, agree with him, and they are quite above the subterfuge of a transom, above which there may be artistic sashwork, while below the window is abandoned to the powers of darkness, which is to say, of light. Meanwhile, the material of this delightful building is more or less adhered to in the newer works at that end of the campus, while the style is by no means so strictly followed. And, indeed, there is no good reason why a building of huge rooms which must be flooded with light should follow the only excellent way for studies and dormitories. In architecture, even in Gothic, are many mansions. One need not quarrel with architect of Palmer Hall because his Gothic is certainly not Tudor, and is hardly classifiable as English, nor with the architect of Guyot for the huge segment-headed windows which a Tudor architect would assuredly have viewed with apprehension and alarm. "Form follows function," and a general conformity is all one is justified in requiring. Nay, over on the other side of the campus, where the buildings, being all dormitories, have the same conditions under which the Tudor colleges were built, and where the a stricter conformity may be exacted, one finds the conformity rather of the spirit than of the letter. That beautiful vaulted archway which gives access to Campbell Hall seems to belong to a much earlier and sterner stage of Gothic than the picturesque degeneration of Tudor times. And surely none the worse for that!
It was not until after the building of "`79," in fact, not until long after the sesquicentennial year, which marked the change of title from the College of New Jersey to Princeton University, that the authorities of the university took a step more important to its future architectural development than had been the erection of even the best of its single buildings. This was the determination to adopt a plan for that development which had gone on in a random and planless way for a century and a half, though one is bound to say with less grievous results than such a want of system deserved, or than had been incurred elsewhere. The appointment followed of Mr. Ralph Adams Cram, fresh from his success in the similar undertaking at West Point, of which the results are only now beginning to be disclosed. The occupation of the eastern and western fringes of the campus had already been determined, upon lines which enlisted the complete sympathy of the new supervising architect, and which is appointment of the campus they enclosed by providing axes in reference to which all future building should be placed and planned. It will be seen that the plan provides for an expansion far beyond the probabilities of the present or the next generation, while the central avenues, from Nassau Hall to Carnegie Lake on one axis, from the railroad to Washington Street on the other, almost automatically fix future building, while the more turbulent relics of past building may be mitigated by plantation, by "ampeloptification," by alteration, by remodeling, with little or perhaps no necessity of resort to the heroic remedy of demolition. The only definitely doomed building, I believe, is University Hall, and this, as we have seen, has long outlived the purpose of its creation. And surely nobody will grudge the demolition, seeing its is in behalf of the filling out the northwest corner of the campus with the double quadrangle of the freshman dormitories, with its stately and serene tower, towards the completion of which an impressive beginning has been made through the beneficence of Mrs. Russell Sage. Mr. Cram has modestly reserved at this corner for his own firm only the filling out of the quadrangle of which the northern wing of Blair Hall forms the western side. (A larger opportunity will befall them in the Graduate College on the other side of the campus.) This new work is worthy of the old, worthy "mellow brickwork" across the campus, worthy of any place of education in the world. Comparisons were odious in an associated work in which every associate has so loyally subdued himself to what he worked in. It is really not decent to treat a collaboration as though it were a competition. And it were ungrateful, as well as ungracious, to raise petty cavils with work which gives us so much pleasure. One may wish, to be sure, that the architect of Palmer Hall had seen his way to give more interest to his stark and bald gables, that the designer of Guyot had been more deferent in his choice of the tint of his bricks and his mortar, that the architect of Patton had considerably "smoothed his wrinkled front," and the architect of McCosh had considerably wrinkled his smooth expanses. But the whole thing is so delightful. I spoke, a while ago, of the indecency of considering to of curiously, from the pint of view of logic, of works the appreciation of which is so much a question of taste that one finds himself continually fain to relieve his spirit with gustatory adjectives. How "sweet!" How "delicious!" And one finds his keenest pleasure in the "bits," i.e., "bites." What is done of the new dormitories is so full of nuances that one finds it all nuance, so nice is the sensibility which prevails everywhere. And it all has such a home-grown, such a vernacular air. Consider, for example, in the newest dormitory, the only one built of the local stone of Princeton, a stone with greater varieties of tine than those heretofore employed, the effect of the careful selection of stones for the corners according to sizes and shapes and color, so that these angles, in what is nearly a monochrome of rough stone, have the effect of quoining. And it is from this point of view that one may suggest a mild regret that the architects of these later buildings did not see their way to protrude chimneys of rough stone like the walls, instead of trim red brickwork, above their green slate roofs, roofs covered, in the latest and unfinished building, with slates so rough and so thick that they seem to have been flagged rather than slated. The change of material in the chimneys tends precisely to dispel the delightful illusion that this is in fact native and home-grown architecture, that it is the work of an inspired stonemason, working in the manner of the builders of the prototypes of these colleges, gathering his material near at hand and fitting it together to his untutored or his inherited best, instead of the modern architect, importing his neat brickwork from afar. But, upon the whole, it is time lost to talk about this work in detail. The only way to praise such work is to show it. The lover of architecture may be commended, in the first place, to go to Princeton, and if he really cannot do that, to consider the photographs which make one regret to find them so inadequate a showing of what is really doing at Princeton.
The interest of Princeton is by no means confined to the campus. Eastward stretches a long row of "upper-class clubs," which take the place of the "fraternities" that for generations have been barred from Princeton, and which are reported to be giving the faculty nearly equal occasion for solicitude. But the club houses are without question objects of interest to the tourist of the university and the town. They are of many architectural modes, congruous or incongruous with one or another mode of the architecture of the university, of the half-timbered English cottage or English inn like the Tiger Inn, freely Gothic like the Ivy and the Cap and Gown, loosely Georgian like the Cottage, strictly Colonial like the Colonial, but uniformly showing the employment of cultivated architects, and amusing in their diversity instead of annoying, as they would be if they were within the sacred enclosure and pretended to form part of the architecture of an institution which was not altogether and promiscuously "elective," but showed signs of having a mind and a purpose of its own.
On the other hand, "Broadmead," which has been promptly nicknamed "Preceptoria," in allusion to its chief expected use, the latest of Mr. Pyne's benefactions to Princeton, seems rather Procrustean in comparison. It has all been done by one architect, and, consequently, consists in rather restricted variations upon one or two themes, or motives. But it is all skillfully and discreetly done, and gives one the notion of a real "university settlement," a highly habitable and eligible place of abode.
It would not be fair to conclude without saying something of Princeton outside of the university. The common street building of the town is like the older street building of many a long-settled inland village. Only, the subjection of the village to the college or the commercial stagnancy of the village has kept it from being commercialized into outrageousness and vulgarity. Even if there were nothing artistic in its building, Nassau Street would impress you, in contrast with other "main streets" of which you are aware, with the conviction that mere dullness and humdrum may rise to the level of artistic qualities. It is a common complaint of villages which aspire to the rank of "resorts" that the attractiveness of their domestic building is apt to be more than offset by the repulsiveness of their commercial building. The complaint does not lie against Princeton, did not lie, even before there were any positively attractive business buildings, as now there are. None of Mr. Pyne's benefactions to Princeton has been more exemplary or ought to be more fruitful than the two business buildings which bear his name. Upper and Lower Pyne, with their actual shops on the ground floor, and their undisguisedly commercial occupancy, most gratefully recall the best street architecture of Chester or Shrewsbury. The architect has lavished upon them a careful and affectionate study which is visible in every detail. The wood-carving, for example, on the front of Upper Pyne, with that very chaming driveway into the "mews," with the quaint sundial over, is quite worthy of the best historic examples. And we have seen, Princeton is not Dutch as other settlements in "the Jerseys" are Dutch, nor was there any apparent reason why the architect of its bank should have resorted to a Dutch motive. All the same, the visitor to Princeton has reason to rejoice that he did so. For of the many buildings which have been suggested by that famous and fantastic old sixteenth century meat market of Haarlem, none is more successful or seems more in place than this. And in Trinity Church Princeton has a possession, half a century of age, of which the architectural merit and the quaint accessories give excellent expression to the genius loci. It is good news that the enlargement of Mr. Upjohn's work has been entrusted to Mr. Cram. Princeton already is, and still more Princeton is evidently becoming, in an architectural sense, the most successful and interesting of American examples of a university town.
Note.-Fuller illustration of the work at Princeton of the late William Appleton Potter is given in the Architectural Record for September, 1909
(The Architectural Record VOL.XXVII February, 1910 No. 2)