In PRINCETON UNIVERSITY -so named by President Patton in his inaugural address two years ago- we see the enlargement of Princeton College, and this again the outgrow of the College of New Jersey. The three names mark distinct stages in the development of the institution. Although from the very beginning a private corporation and not a child of the State, the revised Charter of 1748, framed by the Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the province of New Jersey, did not contemplate for the institution an influence extending very far beyond the limits of the province.
The necessity of "encouraging and promoting a learned education of our youth in New Jersey" was the primary impulse of its foundation, and although a wider influence id distinctly mentioned, the importance of New Jersey contingent is recognized in the provision that a majority of the trustees should be inhabitants of that province. In 1868 the year of Dr. McCosh's accession to the presidency, the charter was modified so that the majority of trustees might be inhabitants of other States, although twelve out of twenty--seven were still to be chosen from New Jersey. During the twenty years of this administration, the proportion of students from other states constantly increased, until at present not two hundred of the seven hundred and sixty nine students have their homes in New Jersey. A large proportion of the undergraduates come from new York and Pennsylvania, but almost all the remaining states from Massachusetts to California are usually represented. In all her relations with other colleges, she has appeared as Princeton College, and assumed this names a indication that the provincial spirit was a matter of the past.
The new title, Princeton University, indicates a further change, which has already more than begun, in which undergraduate education is not the only end of ours endeavors, and baccalaureate honors are not our highest academic distinctions. Princeton College is now only a part of a larger organism and, is rapidly adapting herself to the new conditions of her life. Removed from the noise and distractions of the city, but sufficiently near to New York and Philadelphia, her situation secures to her all the advantages of the country, while those of the city are not beyond her reach. There can hardly be a question that such a situation best favors the healthy development of both student and teaching body.
The campus during the last twenty years has seen many changes, but there are several old landmarks to tell us of the early days. Foremost of all is Nassau Hall, that venerable pile which withstood the depredations of British troops and successive fires, and is cherished now as the heart of Princeton College. From its central tower in the early morning, all through the day and on into the night, a deep clear bell rings out each passing hour. We think of this one building as the mother of all the rest, and in fact it is not a hundred years since it contained the chapel, library and dining hall, recitation rooms, museum and dormitory. All the early associations of the college cluster around this building. Washington's portrait by the elder Peale is there, telling us also of the fall of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton. (This picture was give to the college by Washington himself, and occupies the very frame which once held the shot-riddled portrait of George II.) It is cherished also as a memorial of the sessions of the Continental Congress held in the college library in 1783. On either side of it hang portraits of distinguished graduates and benefactors and presidents of the college.
In this building today there are two museums, three working laboratories, and a lecture hall. The museums contain rich collections of minerals, fossil, plants and animals, arranged as well as may be according to geological periods, and a large number of prehistoric antiquities. In one laboratory we may find Professor Libbey conducting a class in microscopical anatomy, in another Professor Scott reconstructing fossil skeletons from the fragments discovered during last summer's expedition to the far West, in the third Professor Osborn directing the draughtsman's work as he reproduces these fossils for publication. The lecture hall, as in the older days is used by the professors of several departments.
Adjoining Nassau hall is the library for which the college is indebted to her great benefactor John C. Green. It is intended as a student working library rather than a repository of rare works, although specially rich in books of a philosophical character and in those which refer to the late civil war. The shelves, capable of containing 120.000 volumes are by no means filled, and the reading-room facilities are small. Professors are largely dependent on their own private libraries as the fund for the increase of the college library is inadequate for their wants.
Beyond the library is Dickinson Hall, so named from the first president of the college. "This is the building closely associated with the daily work of the undergraduate. During his college course every academic student becomes well acquainted with this building. His first associatious are with the central room where he meets his instructors in the Freshman year. But he soon comes in contact with Professors Murray and Hunt, Packard, Cameron and Orris at one end of the building and with President Patton and Professors Duffield, Kargé, Sloane, Ormond and West at the other.
Two or three times a year he mounts a flight stairs to the uppermost story to be intellectually measured in Examination Hall. A few yards from Dickinson Hall is the Biological laboratory, a charming little building, presented by the Class of 1877. It was the good fortune of that class to see four of its members professors in college, and through the a new impulse has been given to study of biology. This department, under Professors Macloskie, Schanck, Osborn, Scott and Libbey, Dr. Rankin and Mr. Phillips, represented also by one Collegiate and two University Fellows is strong in productive work.
Beyond this building lies the John C. Green School of Science; here are found the apparatus, laboratories, and lecture rooms for the general scientific and technical courses. (it represents a distinct department of the University and gives specially degree). Though founded in 1873, the scientific school building has been twice enlarged, and is now too small for its present requirements. The Electrical Engineering department under Professor Brackett, has recently been presented with a separate building. The Astronomical department, under Professor Young and Mr. Reed, has its lecture room in the School of Science, but has separate observatories for practical work. The large classes in Graphics, under Professor Wilson, are already hampered for want of space, while Engineering department under Professors McMillan and Smith and Mr. Harris (now comprising one-half of the students of the scientific school) are also in need of enlarged accommodations. The department of Physics, under Professor Brackett, Magie and Mr. Dodd, occupies the large laboratory and recitation room on the second floor. The Chemical department under Professors Schanck, Cornwall and McCay, occupies no small portion of the first story, with several special laboratories, lecture rooms, and a museum illustrative of applied chemical art. But the ampler facilities long needed by this department are being provided for by a spacious new building to be erected in the near future.
We have already seen all parts of the college organism were originally comprised in Nassau Hall. Dormitories and chapel and literary societies were here also, as well as lecture room and library. If we go from Nassau Hall to East and West College, then to Reunion and Edwards, the to Witherspoon, University and Brown Halls, we may trace the growth of the dormitory, from a large square room where three of four students live together by day and by night to the comfortable apartment where each may have his separate bedroom and study.
The growth in the religious attitude of the college may also be measured to some extent by the different character of the old chapel and the new. The old chapel still standing on the campus, is as dismal as it is commonplace. Were it not for its cruciform character, it might be mistaken for a country school-house. The new chapel, exclusively devoted to religious purposes, and itself a monument of art, has had a marked effect in fostering a spirit reverence for all that is beautiful and good. The best memories of the past are being recorded in fine monuments upon its walls. A beautiful tablet to Professor Henry, and fine bronze memorial to ex-President McCosh are already there. The Henry tablet, by A. Page Brown and Louis St. Gaudens will remind the coming undergraduate that the first electromagnetic telegraph was stretched across the Princeton campus, and that the Smithsonian Institution was planned and developed by a Princeton professor, The McCosh memorial, by Augustus St. Gaudens, will be a daily reminder of the distinguished philosopher and brilliant administrator, to whom Princeton owe so much of her present prosperity. Recently there have been added five memorial windows, the most important work of Francis Lathrop. The picturesque little building near the chapel is Murray Hall, the memorial of Hamilton Murray '73, who perished at sea in the Ville du Havre, November 22, 1873. This building represents the student's religious organization, known as the Philadelphian Society, which now forms a branch of the Young Men's Christian Association.
In the southern campus is the central section of the Museum of Historic Art. When completed, it is expected that this museum will contain ample material to illustrate the general history of art. A valuable collection of pottery and porcelain is already within the walls, and collection of casts of ancient and medieval sculpture has been provided for by the gift of the class of 1881.
The little Ionic building not far away, and the foundations for a new building alongside of it, represent the student literary societies, Whig and Clio Hall. These organizations, proud to claim such men for their founders as James Madison and Oliver Ellsworth, are today in the height of prosperity. They stimulate independent literary work, afford excellent training in parliamentary practice, oratory and debate, and offer to their members the use of libraries well supplied with current literature. These are venerable institutions, but so planed as to fill an important place today in the literary discipline of nearly all the undergraduates. Whether or no their continued life is due to exclusion of Greek letter fraternities from the college, their activity and usefulness prove them to be one of the richest inheritances which has been handed down to us from the early days. The influence of these societies is publicly felt at Commencement, when representatives of both compete prizes in oratory and debate. To their influence also may be ascribed the continued success of the Nassau Literary Magazine, which has nearly completed the fiftieth year of its existence. The demand for a college paper devoted to news is supplied by the Princetonian, which makes its appearance three times a week. It reflects not so much the literary life of the college as its general and especially its athletic interests.
There is one more building on the campus which cannot well be omitted in an account of our present academic life. This the Gymnasium. This was the first new building erected during Dr. McCosh's administration, and it marked a brighter, healthier era in student life. It has been continually utilized, and to this may be attributed in no small measure the steady improvement in student health and discipline. It has been the needed help and stimulus to the out-of-door sports which have become so organic a part of undergraduate life. Whether or no athletic sports have been carried too far need not concern us here. But even if intercollegiate contests should be restricted or abolished altogether, there would still remain the need of a larger gymnasium and more extended facilities for out-of-door games. (A neighboring school is richer in this respect than Princeton University).
There are many student interests not represented by separate buildings; some of them, like the musical organizations, deserving more serious recognition. There are glee clubs and instrumental clubs of various degrees of proficiency, one of which represents the college in an extensive tour during the holidays. It would be no small gain if musical exercises could be fostered under protecting walls of their own, and instruction in the history and theory of music cold be given a place in the college curriculum. For those who taste is artistic, yet not musical, there are the Sketch Club and the Dramatic association, which have done good service in improving the taste for drawing, painting, and the drama. Greek letter or secret fraternities do not exist in Princeton. The social attraction of such societies finds its expression in clubs, of which the Ivy and the University Cottage clubs are the most prominent. Each of these organizations has attractive quarters, and gives occasional receptions. The three upper classes have in recent years contributed to the social life of the college by giving balls, known as the Senior Assembly, Junior Promenade, and Sophomore Reception. These are all held in the auditorium of the University Hall, and are more urban in character than the promenade concerts of days gone by, held in the open campus amid swinging lanterns. Almost every interest of college life is represented by a club. There are school clubs, hare and hound clubs, a gun club, riding club, photographic club, and -but we stop. It is impossible to enumerate then all.
The visitor to Princeton will have received but a partial view of the attractions of the place if he has seen only the college buildings. It will not take us long to walk through the main street to Evelyn, the recently established college for women. On our way we will notice the old President's house, before which stand two great sycamores, planted by Dr. Finley in 1765. Evelyn College is located in a retired spot, where a rambling building affords shelter for a rapidly growing institution.
If we return by the new Athletic Field, we shall have an unexpectedly fine view along prospect avenue, which is being lined with attractive cottages. We must pass then under the lofty elms of "McCosh Walk" till we reach Prospect, the fine residence of President Patton. Then wend our way through the spacious campus and on until we reach the Theological Seminary, whose substantial buildings represent the fortress of the Presbyterian faith.
Princeton's significance to the country extends far back in our national life. Her influence not only in the Declaration of Independence, in the original Articles of Confederation and in the constitutional government of various states. She has been instrumental in founding as many as forty colleges, and numberless churches all over the country owe their existence to her graduates. In the early part of this century we needed just such men as the Presbyterians trained to independence under a republican form of government, could supply, and Princeton did he share in supplying them. The College took its character not so much from Jonathan Edwards as from John Witherspoon. Edwards was president for too short period to have influenced the destiny of the college. (he gave to Princeton little more than the legacy of a great name.) But Witherspoon was a strong power in the college for the twenty-six years from 1768 to 1794. He saw it safely through the stormy days of the Revolution, when Nassau Hall was used as a barracks and its library and material equipment were destroyed. The average number of graduates under his administration did not exceed nineteen a year, but an unusually large proportion distinguished themselves in public life. One became President of the Unites States, one Vice-President, six member of the Continental Congress, twenty senators of the United States, twenty three members of the House of Representatives, thirteen Presidents of Colleges, three Judges of the Supreme Court of the united States, twenty officers in the army of the revolution, and many more were prominent in law, medicine, and theology. He enlarged the curriculum, established the system of instruction by lectures, re-established its material equipment, and left the college in a flourishing condition.
One hundred years later the helm of the institution was again put in the hands of a Scotchman , James McCosh, and again the college advanced with gigantic strides. It is still too early a date to record the achievements of those who graduated under his administration, although many of them already reached distinction in varied walks of life. But we may readily mark the material progress of those memorable twenty years. From 1868 to 1888 the corps of instructors had increased from sixteen to forty-two and the student body from two hundred and forty-one to six hundred and three. The college campus was greatly enlarged and the number of buildings on it increased from nine to twenty-four. A corresponding expansion took place in the courses of study.
But while the strong characteristics of vigorous Scotch Presbyterians have done much to shape the policy and mould the life of the college, the institution was planted not upon Presbyterian but upon unsectarian ground. The charter, framed by a Harvard graduate, Governor Belcher,, provides that "every religious denomination may have free and equal liberty and advantages," makes no mention of any special denomination and requires no religious tests of any of the officers or students of the college. Two of the earliest presidents were called from Congregational churches and today influential members of the Trustees and Faculty and a large proportion of the students have other than Presbyterian connections.
The progressive character of Princeton is now as well known as her conservatism. Both qualities are illustrated in the characters of two eminent presidents in whom we see so much of the Princeton spirit; both also are harmoniously blended in the recently reorganized curriculum. We cannot here do more than point out the principles which have governed the Faculty in its reconstruction. The subjects taught the Freshmen are all required; in Sophomore year three-fourths of them; in Junior year one half ; and in Senior year, one third. The remaining subjects are elective, and rapidly increase in number in the later years of the course. In Sophomore year there are ten elective courses; in Junior year thirty-to and in Senior year eighty-one. As great pains are taken to observe as far as possible the natural sequence of the sciences and to provide general courses preliminary to the more advanced ones in the same line, the curriculum seems to be admirably adapted to the present wants of the college. Three-fourths of all the electives offered to the Junior class are now open also to the Seniors. This a strong blow at the exclusive class system which has had an unbroken life up to the present year. Another improvement has been the encouragement of specialization by the awarding of special honors to students of distinguished attainments in departments requiring at least four hours a week during the earlier years and six hours during the Senior year. A new stimulus to the work of research and the reading of papers by professors, fellows, and graduate students has been given by the establishment of fortnightly and monthly clubs. A Science Club, Philosophical Club, Literary Club, Biological Club, and Mathematical and Physical Seminary are already in existence. Some record of their transactions may be found in the quarterly Princeton College Bulletin.
One of the inheritances which is slow to disappear is sectarianism in religion. Happily its power is waning. President Patton, in his inaugural address, emphasized the unsectarian foundation of the college as a herald of the University; and one of the trustees a Presbyterian clergyman, significantly said: "if it be not possible for Princeton to remain Presbyterian and be a University, let her cease to be Presbyterian."
Another inheritance slowly disappearing is sectarianism in education. This shows itself in the opposition which is sometimes developed to the introduction of new subjects and the undue value assigned to the old. The recent reorganization of the curriculum was a triumph against this tendency, but the reform did not go far enough. A more liberal education should now be extended to Freshmen and Sophomore classes. This cannot fail to come soon.
From Grounds & Buildings; Cosmopolitan (NYC), Vol. 8, April 1890.