WERE a traveller, who had never heard of the Father of Waters, suddenly to emerge from the wilderness, and strike upon its banks, he could no sooner look upon its broad and majestic current than he would feel an irrepressible desire to ascend and trace out the far off sources of such a flood. The river, as he sees it, is one and undivided, but if he were to make the ascent, he would pass numerous tributaries descending from forest, and prairie, and mountain range, each pouring in its contribution to swell the giant stream. Were he to follow each tributary in succession to the very last through all its ramifications, he would discover that the majestic flood upon which he first cast his eye was the product of insignificant streams, starting from sources innumerable and wide asunder. And beyond each one of these sources, he might go to the rain drops, and even to the diffused and floating mists from which they were formed.
But he would not be satisfied till he had made also the descent, and traced the moving flood through all its winding course, till lost in the ocean. This process was long since completed in respect to the majestic river, whose
4channel runs through this neighborhood, and which has flowed there since the continent had a being. It is an object, too, of surpassing interest, whether we consider it in the variety and wide dispersion of its sources — the immense territory which it drains — the magnitude of its flood — its benefits to commerce — or its great agency in developing the resources of perhaps the richest section of the globe.
All this, however, sinks into insignificance when compared with some great stream of intellectual and moral influence, starting, it may be, from an obscure fountain-head, feeble in its beginnings, but receiving successive additions, and flowing on from age to age, and carrying a fertilizing and saving power over human society. By the fountain head of such a stream it is our privilege to stand today — a fountain opened literally in the wilderness but so recently that its outflowings have as yet scarce crossed the half of a single age. Its swelling current, however, gives cheering promise of a noble future. On this occasion, therefore, I could hardly select any other theme than the Past, the Present, and the Future of Monticello Female Seminary.
In considering the Past, it will be essential that we bring into view the providences, the influences, and the agencies which were concerned in giving existence to the Institution, and also the results thus far accomplished. And this course would seem to require at the outset specific allusion at least to the Founder, the first Principal, and the first Teachers, so far as may be necessary to reveal the successive steps through which their peculiar relations to the Institution were created.
We can now see that there were remarkable providences and influences, starting from various points very wide asunder — preparations in process, and maturing through a long course of years, and agencies entirely independent of each other at work, but guided by an unseen hand, till providences, influences, and agencies were
5brought into visible connection, and as the combined result, yonder noble structure arose, and the work of instruction began. It is well to make these records, that when our children, and those who come after us, inquire, "What mean ye by these stones?" — they may understand from the bed of what Jordan they were taken — by what hands and means they were piled up — of the crossing of what seas and deserts and rivers they are the memorial — and how they illustrate the interposition, the guidance, and the benign influence of an ever present Providence.
So far as the founder is concerned, were it proper on this occasion, we might follow him through all the fluctuations of that preparatory course which finally led to this noble conception — from his birthplace on the Atlantic coast, in the vicinity of Cape Cod, through a life of some twenty years upon the sea — to the final shipwreck in the Gulf of Mexico — the weeping on the beach amidst the wreck of worldly hopes — the subsequent accumulation by well directed enterprise, of means sufficient to repair losses, and do noble things in the field of benevolence, when the heart and the great aim of life should be right. More than all might we trace the singular providence that brought these right, by placing under his eye, in the writings of Swedenborg, at midnight, while tossing on the Gulf of Mexico, the words of the Saviour: — "What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" Also, the application of that inquiry by the Spirit of God to the heart — the subsequent purchase of a copy of the Word of God, and its perusal till peace was found in believing, and the claims of God so felt, that for the first time in existence the earnest inquiry arose: — "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?"
This petition was soon answered, as will appear by the following letter, written in reply to inquiries made by myself, and bearing date Feb. 16th, 1842. It shows the origin of the Institution in his mind
"One morning, while lying in my bed somewhat indisposed, my wife came into the room, and as she went out made some remark. One of our little children, that had just begun to lisp a few words, caught the remark, and while playing by itself on the floor, repeated it over and over for some time. This led me to reflect on the powerful effect of a mother's example on the minds, manners, and habits of their offspring, and the no less powerful influence that females have over society at large. The mind is formed to a great extent in childhood, and while under the direct care of the mother. From the time it can lisp, and even before, it goes to her with all its little troubles and difficulties, its pleasures and pains, and her kind participation in all its concerns endears it so closely, and gives it such implicit confidence in her, that it takes for granted any thing she does or says is right, and is actuated accordingly.
"In regard to the effect of female example over society I need not make any remarks. It is a fact long since acceded to them, that to a very great and important extent, they govern and control it. Hence, the great necessity of their being qualified for these important and responsible situations in this life which God, in his infinite wisdom, has assigned to them.
"With these reflections, the idea came into my mind to erect a Seminary, in which females could, with the blessing of God, be prepared to discharge their numerous, arduous and responsible duties. After consulting my wife as to the propriety of such a step, to which she acceded unhesitatingly, and being desirous to act the part of a faithful steward of what God had placed in my possession, I resolved to devote so much of it as would erect a building, to be devoted to the moral, intellectual, and domestic improvement of females, particularly those whose MEANS WERE LIMITED.
Thus, an apparently trivial circumstance started a train of thought which led on to a conception and a purpose, the results of which are before us today. And this train of thought did not stop with earthly relations and
7responsibilities. That little one, whose lispings became the occasion of so much good, was then viewed as having a soul that would never die — and that soul was traced into eternity, and the importance of maternal training estimated by its bearing upon all the interests of futurity. Extensive travel and observation had revealed the power of female influence over society at large, and experience in Mexico had created a sort of horror of the Catholic system as it stood related to this influence. We have thus traced one branch of the providences, influences, and agencies concerned in giving existence to the Institution.
His wonders to perform."
We may now turn back and look in another direction. Early in the year 1829, an association of seven young men was organized at Yale College for the purpose of coming to this State and commencing a system of operations, educational and religious. The enterprise was to be conducted on the great principle that education and religion must go hand in hand to the world's conversion. The speaker was one of this association, and, in company with the Rev. J. M. Sturtevant, now President of Illinois College, arrived in this State in the fall of the same year. The object of the association was to plant churches, form Sabbath schools, found a college, establish academies, male and female, and encourage common schools, in short, promote Christian education in all its departments.
Illinois College is one of the fruits of this enterprise.
But, in order to the full development of the scheme it became necessary, in the progress of events, that some one should take the field, organize churches, locate missionaries, lecture on education, visit at an early day all the
8rising points of influence, and secure, as far as practicable, organizations, educational and religious, which should exert everywhere an elevating, moulding, and saving power in the very infancy of society.
Between four and five years were devoted to this work by the speaker, chiefly under commission from the American Home Missionary Society. While prosecuting a missionary tour in Southern Illinois, the night of the 17th of Dec., 1834, was spent at the house of the founder. He then stated that he had come to the conclusion to expend some $10,000 in the erection of a Female Academy, and desired me to take the superintendence of the Institution, and devote myself permanently to its interests.
This proposal was at once rejected, on the ground that it would cause an abandonment of the field of usefulness then occupied, and the choice of one to me untried, and for that reason, more than on account of the nature of the field, less promising in respect to good results. The solicitation, however, was earnest, and through fear of discouraging, at the outset, so noble a movement, the proposal was taken under advisement.
During the following spring the late Rev. Thomas H. Gallaudet was sent on an exploring tour through the West by an association of Christian men in Hartford, Conn., for the purpose of ascertaining the best method of promoting Protestant evangelical education in the new States. At an interview held with him in the city of St. Louis, he desired me to engage in the service of the association, for the purpose of carrying out their designs. In view of these varied movements, the following remarks were penned at the time: "The elements are in motion in every direction with reference to Protestant evangelical education in the West. Individuals in different directions, and widely separated, without any interchange of views and feelings, appear to be moved as by a common impulse, and the similarity of views and feelings evidently indicates a
9common origin, and that, I must believe, is the Spirit of God. I trust the day is not distant when these various elements will be combined into one harmonious and powerful system that shall pour intellectual light, and moral and religious influence, over the whole "West."
Every year of missionary effort on that field only tended to deepen the conviction of the importance of permanent and concentrated labor as compared with that which was desultory and superficial.
In the month of June, of the same year, interviews were had with the association above named, at Hartford, Conn., and on the 4th of July a conference was held by sundry gentlemen in the city of New York, at which were present, Rev. A. Peters, D. D., Secretary of the A. H. M. S.; Rev. E. Beecher, D. D., then President of Illinois College; Rev. Gideon Blackburn, D. D.; John Tillson, Esq., of Illinois, and the founder of the Seminary. The question to be decided was one of duty to myself, in view of the claim of the Home Missionary service — Protestant evangelical education, as proposed to be conducted by the association and the contemplated Female Seminary. A remark was there made by the founder which left an indelible impression on my mind, and was something like this: — "Gentlemen may smile, but I consider it of as much importance that the Institution shall come into existence and do the work which I have in view, as that every soul now living in the State of Illinois should be converted."
The consultation resulted in the formation of a plan for promoting temporarily the interests of Home Missions and Protestant evangelical education in common. In the mean time, the founder made the acceptance of his proposal on the part of the speaker, the indispensable condition of erecting the contemplated edifice. The work to be done was to fix on a location, determine the plan of the building, arrange the details of the system upon which the
10Seminary should be conducted, secure a corps of teachers, and do whatever was necessary to bring the Institution into full operation. At an interview with the founder, held at his own house in January following (1836), so decided an answer was given that he determined to go forward and build. Still, as the entire abandonment of the broad field of missionary labor then occupied could not be reconciled with a sense of duty, express reservations were made, at the time, in respect to confinement at the Institution by teaching — the department chosen being that of preaching, lecturing on moral subjects, and exercising a general superintendence. The following record at this time was made — "If the Institution does not succeed as a common Female Seminary, it will probably become a Female Orphan Asylum."
This language may sound strangely now, but it was used nearly twenty years since, when the spot where the Seminary building stands was literally in the wilderness, and when nothing like what was projected had been done west of the Alleghanies. Even after the erection of the building it was predicted by one of the most eminent public men of the State, that "within ten years it would become the founder's barn." As nearly twice ten years have already elapsed, it is hardly necessary to say that he did not prove to be a true prophet.
The prediction was based upon a false philosophy in respect to such Institutions. The philosophy was, that unless planted in a city or village, if there should at any time happen to be any particular untoward occurrence at the Institution, awakening strong prejudice, and creating public distrust, it would be destitute of adequate support at the critical point, and an antagonistic public sentiment would inevitably bear it down! If, however, our Institutions of Christian learning had no better reliance in the hour of their trial and peril than cities or villages, as such, rallying to their defence, they might well despair. Their
11bitterest foes may dwell at their very doors, and stand ready to lead on the ranks of opposition on every supposed favorable occasion. And this is especially true if the institutions hold steady to high and noble Christian ends. Others may profess friendship, and feel it too, just so long and so far as the Institution may be made to subserve some private end — but no reliance can be placed upon them in the hour of its extremity. Others still, after success has been achieved, may be very ready to join in the triumph and share in the glory, whose indifference to its interests was such, in the days of its infancy, that no appeal in its behalf could stir their sympathies or call forth their pittance.
The truth is, that when public sentiment, in its frequent vibrations, is adverse — the chief security under God for such institutions, aside from their immediate conductors, lies in the friends of Christian learning, any where and every where within the sphere of their influence, and in the minds trained through its instrumentality, and scattered abroad to fill high posts of influence in society. The capital upon which they must rely is the good actually accomplished, and a noble and consistent character acquired, which has become public property.
At the date last mentioned, (January, 1836,) a large part of one day was occupied by the founder and myself in exploring this region with a view of fixing upon the location of the Seminary. The question had been very distinctly considered whether the Institution had not better be placed somewhere in the vicinity of Rock River. But the conclusion was that the population likely to gather there would be of such a character as to insure schools of a high order, so that in reality a greater amount of good might be accomplished, at any rate, a work done more in accordance with the benevolent intentions of the founder, by a location in the Southern portion of the State. He accordingly offered to build at any point
12within six miles of the city of Alton, which might be selected by myself.
As the result of the examination of this particular region, the stake was stuck midway between the present location and his residence, but on the opposite side of the road, and at some distance from it on the rising ground. As another individual was the owner of the ground, it was secured by purchase. A subsequent and more thorough examination, however, in the following March, convinced us both that the present site was decidedly superior to the one first selected, and it was accordingly purchased for this object. It was then entirely in a state of nature, and covered with an open forest, denominated in the language of the country "barrens," and the particular spot chosen was covered with the ample top of a prostrate oak. As this region was at that time called Monticello, this name was adopted for the Institution.
This site was selected from a regard to health and freedom from the bustle and temptations common to large towns, as well as its convenient proximity to the city and the river, and its situation in reference to the great thoroughfare leading into the interior. Moreover, as the Institution was to be established for high Christian ends, the preaching of the Gospel within its walls was regarded as a primary necessity, land it seemed probable that at this point a congregation could be gathered, composed alike of pupils and of inhabitants of the neighborhood.
Time has abundantly vindicated the wisdom of the choice. In respect to health, in the fact that, although more than a thousand pupils have been connected with the Institution, not one of them has died within its walls, and in the known and remarkable healthfulness that has ever prevailed. The same is true in respect to all the subsequent developments of the country, routes of travel and general relations to different sections, and to population. So, also, in respect to moral and religious influences. In
13regard, to the site itself, I need say nothing to those who have looked over the beautiful and ample grounds around the Institution.
As the corner-stone was laid without any public ceremony, the precise date of that transaction cannot be given. No history of the Institution, no precious documents, no memorials of the region or the times was deposited to be dug out in some future age. It was my privilege on Sabbath afternoon, June 26th, 1836, to preach the first sermon ever delivered on that spot, in a mechanic's shop erected by the workmen engaged on the building, from Matt 6: 19, 20.
It now became necessary to settle the general system upon which the Institution should be conducted, and also the course of instruction. This was felt to be a matter of very great moment, demanding the most careful and thorough investigation, both theoretically and practically. The field was perfectly open for the adoption of any system that might be judged best. No trammels were imposed by existing institutions in the same general region, and which had fixed the standard of female education. And while the newness of the country created some special obstacles to the successful adoption of a thorough and elevated course of study, it yet presented a clear field for the introduction of a model institution, whose power should be felt, not only upon the individuals trained under its influence, but in fixing at an elevated point the standard of female education in the very infancy of this forming society.
The period was an auspicious one in the history of female education in our country. For a course of years there had been a rising interest in the subject. There was investigation, and discussion, and experiment. Not only was there a multiplication of female seminaries, but, under more just views of the proper sphere of woman, and a deeper sense of the importance of preparing her for that sphere, there began to be an extensive substitution of
14useful, substantial, and Christian systems of female education for those which were merely or mainly devoted to the ornamental and the frivolous. In all great providential movements we are very apt to find that many minds, wide it may be asunder, and without any interchange of thought, are similarly, if not simultaneously, affected, so that, in after years, the question as to their true originators becomes a matter for excited discussion. The first conception of this Institution, and the purpose to found it, were not the result of any intercourse whatever with the friends of female education. As if communicated by the Spirit of God, the idea arose in a sick chamber, and as the result of a train of thought which was started by an event apparently so trivial as the lisping of a child!
Soon, however, it contributed its share to the general movement. Under a deep consciousness of the responsibilities involved, and of the need of light, the importance of a tour through the older States, devoted to the inspection of female seminaries and the investigation of systems of female education, was suggested to the founder. He gave his assent, and generously furnished means requisite for its prosecution. That tour was commenced by myself on the 25th of July, 1837.
And here it is but simple justice to that veteran educator, Miss C. E. Beecher, to state that the reading of a published address others, on the subject of female education, had very much to do with the ultimate determination of my own mind to engage in this enterprise. In that address was earnestly and ably advocated such an endowment of female seminaries as should secure for them the stability and the peculiar advantages enjoyed by colleges. That view commended itself very strongly, and as here seemed to be an opportunity for carrying it into execution, the resolution was taken to embrace it.
During the tour above mentioned, the female seminaries at Rochester, Auburn, Clinton, and Albany, in the
15State of New York, at Northampton and Ipswich, Mass., at Castleton and Middlebury, Vt., and at other points were visited. Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, at South Hadley, was then in the process of erection, and Miss Lyon, its originator, was at work with all the zeal that could inspire a strong and earnest and benevolent mind in a noble enterprise. The larger portion of several days was devoted to a discussion with her of the whole subject of female education.
Considerable time was also spent at Ipswich Female Seminary, of which Miss Z. P. Grant (now Mrs. Banister
The principal questions which came up in all these discussions had relation to the extent to which domestic duties could be successfully introduced — the proper scope and thoroughness of a system of instruction — the branches of study it should embrace — the number of years it should occupy — the extent to which ornamental branches should
16be introduced and encouraged — the religious influence that should be brought to bear upon it in every stage, together with the division of labor and responsibility best adapted to secure its high ends.
As the providence of God had thrown the speaker into a field of labor somewhat peculiar, and at the time full of interest, the proposal of the founder would have been at once rejected, had an entire withdrawal from that field been regarded as essential to secure the existence of the Institution. But, in order to be left at liberty to promote general education through the State, it would be necessary to have some female teacher who should act as Principal, and become more immediately responsible for the management and the character of the Institution. Consequently, through correspondence held with the Rev. T. H. Gallaudet, Miss Mary Cone, of Warren, Ohio, who was educated at Ipswich Female Seminary, and at that time a teacher in that Institution, at an early day was chosen first Principal.
As investigations advanced, however, in the progress of the Eastern tour above described, increasing interest in the enterprise was awakened — a wider view of it obtained as a field of usefulness, and especially an unwillingness created to assume such a measure of responsibility as would be involved — without a more direct agency in shaping and controlling the influences upon which it depended. Moreover, it seemed obvious from these same investigations, that existing systems were generally defective, and that a better could be constructed — a system which should embrace, in proper place and proportion, the masculine element, while the main work of instruction should be in the hands of females. Besides, this locality had its peculiarities, which, for the time being at least, demanded some special arrangements, whatever might be true of general principles.
At this point, the whole case was fully and freely
17communicated to the Principal elect, and her opinion asked. She promptly and strongly expressed her approbation, and also her decided preference of a Department in the suggested system to the position to which she had been chosen. The general system upon which the Institution was finally started, was at once decided upon.
The question how far the performance of domestic duties should be made obligatory upon the members of the Institution, was one which yielded to no other in difficulty. Inquiries and discussions on this subject were accordingly pushed to the last extent, especially in the visit to South Hadley. The numerous points and bearings then brought under consideration — with reasons for and against — cannot be here exhibited. This was justly considered by the founder as a matter of very deep interest. The Seminary was expressly founded as a place where "females, with the blessing of God, could be prepared to discharge their numerous, arduous, and responsible duties." But to educate them for the discharge of the duties of life and yet ignore all acquaintance with domestic duties, would be like training mariners for service on board of some phantom ship. The idea, however, of giving instruction, in domestic duties at the Seminary was rejected. These duties must be practised there, but the place of instruction was the family. The pupils were required to do their own washing and ironing, take the entire care of their own rooms, and such public rooms as were devoted to their use, and also take their turns in setting tables.
The Institution was to have been opened in the fall of
181837, but, in consequence of the unfinished state of the building, it was delayed till the following Spring. In anticipation, however, of the event, the Principal removed his family to Monticello. They left Jacksonville on the 15th of November, 1837, and arrived at the Seminary the following day, and dined in a "shantee" under the hickory tree in front of the building. Miss Cone also came on from Ohio.
But, in order to complete our view of providences, influences, and agencies concerned in the establishment of the Institution, it is only necessary to state some of the circumstances which led to the connection of the present Principal with it — who had for some years been employed as a teacher in Miss Seward's Seminary at Rochester, N.Y. Some months previous to the tour of investigation already described, a severe attack of inflammatory fever had thrown the speaker into the family of Mr. Philander Fobes, near Jerseyville. While sharing the hospitality of that Christian household, the projected Seminary became a frequent topic of conversation, and the now sainted mother of that family, whose heart was in the liveliest sympathy with every thing that stood connected with the prosperity of the Redeemer's kingdom, entered into the scheme with especial ardor. Then and afterwards she frequently gave expression to her fervent desires that the Institution might be a place where, above all things, Christ should be honored and souls converted, and while life lasted she bore it perpetually on her heart before the Throne of Grace.
This brief sojourn in that family led to the visit to Rochester above named, and the subsequent application to the, present Principal (Miss Philena Fobes) to fill a department
19in the Institution. This invitation was accepted, after personal inspection here in the fall of the same year.
Frequent interviews were held during the winter between the Principal and the two teachers thus engaged, which were devoted to the settlement of the course of instruction, text books, and general arrangements. One of the many questions as to the course of instruction was, whether it should embrace at the outset four or only three years. The opinions of distinguished educators in the State were obtained on this point, and the final decision was in favor of three years. It has since been extended to four.
The Seminary building was so far completed, that, during the winter, religious services were regularly held on the Sabbath by the Principal in the dining hall. In the same place, the Institution was opened for instruction on the 11th of April, 1838. There were present the Principal and his wife, Miss Fobes and Miss Cone, teachers, and Mr. Enoch Long and wife, then of Upper Alton. After remarks adapted to the occasion, the school was opened with prayer. There were sixteen pupils present. And then this noble fountain commenced its flow. The Church was organized during the following year.
The novelty of the enterprise, the scale upon which preparations had been made, the character of the Seminary building, with its appurtenances, noble in itself, but heightened by contrast with the wildness of the immediately surrounding region, all tended to awaken a high degree of interest in the community. The passing traveller gazed with wonder, and the grounds and buildings were honored by numerous and delighted visitors.
For some two years, the Institution was conducted without any Board of Trustees, as the buildings and grounds were as yet the private property of the founder. Up to this time he had expended some $45,000.
1. That it should be based upon the great principles of religion. It was considered but mockery to call that education which keeps out of sight the relations of man to his Creator and the future world, inasmuch as it utterly fails
21of its high and appropriate ends, unless it has reference to the whole of being.
2. That the education furnished should be substantial, extensive, and practical. In other words, that it should develop harmoniously the physical, the intellectual, and the moral powers — and, prepare its subjects, not for an imaginary state of existence — but for the sober realities and duties of actual life.
3. That it should be an endowed Institution. In order (1) That there might be given to it the same stability and prolonged existence which characterize Colleges. (2) That it might be furnished with a library, philosophical and chemical apparatus, and such other facilities for the business of instruction as are deemed indispensable appendages to institutions of a high order for the education of young men. (3) That it might, to a proper extent, be independent of a fickle public sentiment. (4) That the means might exist of securing a corps of experienced and competent teachers, so that neither the existence nor prosperity of the Institution should at any one time depend upon the life, health, or presence of an individual. The loss of either of these in the case of a single female oftentimes speedily obliterates all traces of a flourishing and useful institution. (5) That such a division of labor might be secured that an extended and substantial course of study could be ably taught, and the Institution thus be made worthy of extensive patronage. (6) That the advantages of such a course might be afforded on a scale of expense so reduced as to bring them within the reach of the mass of community and even of the indigent.
But, as no one could be asked to place the needed endowments on a private foundation, the founder committed all the grounds, buildings, and appurtenances to a Board of Trustees in trust, to be used in perpetuity for the purposes of female education, and the following extracts from the deed of trust, show some of the principles and conditions of that trust, viz.:
"That, inasmuch as the soul is immortal, the end of all true education should evidently be fully to develop the powers of man, both physical and mental, and fit him for enjoyment, and for the discharge of his duty in all stages of his existence.
"That, in order to do this, it is essential that he should truly know, and love and serve God as revealed in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, and that the only obstacle to this lies in the alienation of his heart from God, and in its entire depravity, and that his salvation can only be secured through the atonement of Jesus Christ, and the regenerating influences of the Holy Spirit, and that the three several persons who co-operate in effecting this salvation, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, are the one only and true God, and that all truth, whether emanating from the works, the providence, or the word of God, should be so taught, as to co-operate with him in his great end, the sanctification and the salvation of the soul.
First — That both Principal and teachers be required to shape their instructions in accordance with the above principles, and that no pupils be received into the Institution unless they are willing to be so taught.
Seventh — That the inculcation of doctrines and the discussion of all subjects, with the introduction of habits and principles that are not in strict accordance with the pure principles of the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, or that shall, in any possible way, tend to defeat the end for which the Institution was established, be inadmissible forever within its walls."
Here, the end of all true education is declared to be the full development of the physical and mental powers, and the preparation of man for enjoyment and for the discharge of his duty in all stages of his existence. But, in order to do this, he must truly know, and love and serve God. Hence all truth should be so taught as to co-operate with God in his great end, the sanctification and the salvation of the soul through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Here are no specifications as to the course of study — its
23length — the branches that shall compose it — or the methods of teaching. All is left to the discretion of the conductors of the Institution. So of other and numerous points. But the great and leading ends above specified, and for which the Institution was founded, are not left discretionary. The way marks are set up for each and every teacher. They are bound by the conditions of their office to hold the Institution true to those ends — ends, too, which, in importance, rise immeasurably above all others. Set up any other end inconsistent with these, and there is not only conflict with the deed of trust, but a prostration of the highest and noblest of all that can be aimed at or achieved in an enterprise like this.
Let it be particularly noticed here that this deed of trust very wisely avoids needless and embarrassing specifications in respect to these great points. All that is unchangeable is based upon the immutable word of God. The Institution is committed to no particular class in society — to no specified line of descent — to no organization, political or ecclesiastical — things pre-eminently mutable — it is not so bound up as to destroy its power of adaptation to inevitable changes in human society. The fallibility of man, and the very limited range of the most sagacious of finite minds, are assumed.
Monticello Seminary has now been in operation for more than seventeen years. No detailed or connected history of that period will be attempted. A few general facts only can be given. At an early day the number of Teachers was increased till a full Board of Instruction was organized. The first Catalogue was published in 1840, embracing two years. The total number of pupils connected with the Institution during the first year, ending in 1839, was 57; and 104 during the year ending 1840. At the close of this year a regular classification was made, and three individuals admitted to the Senior Class; nine to the Middle Class; and thirty-four to the Junior Class.
At the close of the second year, according to this Catalogue, the Institution was officered thus, viz.: —
REV. THERON BALDWIN, Principal.
Miss H. M. STURTEVANT, Governess and Lecturer on Habits and the First Principles of Morals and Religion.
Miss PHILENA FOBES, Teacher of Rhetoric and of Moral and Intellectual Philosophy.
Miss MARY CONE, Teacher of History and Moral Science.
Miss REBECCA B. LONG, Teacher of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy.
Miss ELIZABETH W. TURNER, Teacher of Vocal and Instrumental Music.
MISS SARAH A. NORTON, Monitress.
MRS. MIRIAM STODDARD, Superintendent of Boarding Department.
As to methods of instruction — each Teacher was independent in her own Department; and sustained, to her associates and the Institution, relations similar to those of a Professor in our colleges. The Principal, with his family, resided in the Seminary building; conducted religious exercises; as Pastor of the Church, preached on the Sabbath, in the Chapel; shared with the Teachers in the government of the School, also in deciding upon the course of study, text-books, etc. The family aspect, as far as possible, was given to the Institution, and Mrs. Baldwin devoted a large portion of her time to its general interests, having a special reference to the wants of pupils "whose means were limited."
Miss Turner and Miss Norton, for some years, have
25been numbered with the dead.
It would be a grateful task here, to complete the list of those who have been concerned in the instruction or management of the Institution; and who in their various spheres contributed so much to its success; but this would altogether transcend the limits assigned to this Address; and, besides, a period yet future would be a more fitting occasion. In consequence of a call to another sphere of labor, the active duties of the First Principal terminated here in the month of November, 1843; although, in the hope of being able again to resume those duties, his resignation was deferred till February, 1845. Soon after, the present Principal was chosen. So far as the past is concerned, we can, on the present occasion, gather up a few only of general results; but these will show, in some measure, the greatness of the work already accomplished. The whole number of pupils connected with the Institution, from the first, is 1037. Of these, 50 have completed the full course of study, and 200 have gone out as Teachers; and we should, probably, be within the truth in the statement, that not less than 100, while connected with the Institution, have become the hopeful subjects of renewing grace. So far as any thing is known to the contrary, not far from 1,000 of these pupils are still in the land of the living. They are scattered abroad, everywhere, and their influence felt in the home
26circle and that of early associates; in the neighborhood; in the school-room; and over the whole surface of society. Large numbers are already at the head of families; and there, or elsewhere, they occupy the highest seats of influence; bringing, we trust, as a class, the combined power of cultivated intellect, refined manners, correct taste, deep sympathy with whatever impure and gentle and elevating, to bear on the highest interests of the race. Society has been touched at a thousand susceptible points — a thousand cultivated minds already thrown back into as many clusters of mind, there to act as a living power, tending to raise all around to their own level. This reflex influence constitutes one of the most precious results consequent upon the establishment of Institutions here amongst the people of the West, in the midst of the society that is to be moulded. Two hundred teachers have already been trained who have given themselves more or less to the work of training others — opening here and there other fountains whose rills may mingle, rill with rill, and thus swell the great stream as it moves onward.
But this is not all. An influence has gone forth from this consecrated spot; that has been felt far and wide over these new and rising States in awakening attention to Female Education — elevating its standard, and prompting to similar efforts. The early day at which this enterprise was undertaken — the scope of the plans here formed — the scale of preparations for the work of instruction where nature was yet in her wildness, and where the very idea of gathering a company of youth, and carrying out an elevated course of study, might seem preposterous — all combined to strike the public mind with great force. Yonder noble structure, as it stood in singular contrast with the surrounding wilds, spoke eloquently to the passing traveller of the appreciation, which some had of mind and its proper cultivation — even here in a country where material interests bore such complete sway — and thus day
27by day the great argument was carried home with a silent, but moving power.
But we can no longer dwell upon the past. And what shall we say in respect to the present of Monticello Seminary? What need we say? It is here all around us, and visible — it is in those beautiful grounds, that noble and permanent structure, in those accommodations and equipments for the work of instruction — in this neat and tasteful Church edifice — in this interesting group of youth — in their acquisitions and varied developments of intellectual power — in this corps of able and faithful Teachers, in the conductors and Trustees — in this large and interested audience, in a favoring and wide-spread public sentiment — in the life and vigor of the Institution — all going to show that obstacles have been overcome, the experiment wrought fully out, and success achieved. The past, indeed, all gathers round, and becomes the present, and furnishes a basis of anticipation for coming years.
The future, however, will depend upon Providences, influences and agencies, like those which have distinguished and made the past. Broad and far-reaching plans — wisdom in the adaptation of means to ends — unselfish devotion to these high and sacred interests on the part of Trustees, conductors and friends — intellectual ability, practical wisdom, executive energy and skill in instruction, all animated by a noble enthusiasm; but above all, the blessing of Him without whose favor every good enterprise will come to naught.
And I may stop here to say, that, notwithstanding all the prosperity in which we now rejoice, the Institution
28has wants, great and pressing. In order fully to accomplish its high mission, it needs greatly increased facilities. The rush for places, and the disappointed expectations on the part of such large numbers of applicants, shows the necessity of enlarged accommodations for pupils. More ample rooms are also needed for Library and Cabinet. Apparatus for school and various other uses, as well as additions, more or less, to the Library, and all other appliances for the work of instruction. These, it must have, if it would meet the demands of the age, or hold its advanced position among similar Institutions, and those started, perhaps, through impulses created by itself.
There are only two ways in which this can be done, viz: — either 1. By continuing to increase the expenses, so that the Trustees can provide for all these wants out of the regular income. Or 2. By endowments that will enable the Institution to furnish all the required accommodations and facilities, and also maintain an able corps of teachers, and carry out an elevated and thorough course of instruction on a scale of expense so reduced as to bring the advantages of the Institution within the reach, even of the indigent. It has been the cherished design of the Institution, from its very inception, to do here for young ladies what has been done for young men in our Colleges on so vast a scale in the whole history of this country. It hardly need be said that, just in proportion as the expenses are increased, the advantages of the Institution are thrown beyond the reach of the very class for whose benefit it was especially designed. This vast outlay was not needed, in order to enable the wealthy to educate their daughters.
Very likely there are not a few now here whose expenses at home would exceed the entire cost of attendance at school, even if the present rate of charges was greatly increased. It was no part of the design of the Institution, however, to exclude this class. Here, as in our
29Colleges, the rich and the poor were to meet together, and mind and moral worth constitute the true nobility.
Efforts were made at an early day, and with encouraging success, to secure endowments, but these were altogether inadequate, and it became a matter of stem necessity to increase expenses to present rates. And these rates might be maintained, or even increased, provided only that endowments, in the shape of Permanent Scholarships or otherwise, could be secured to such an extent, that their avails from year to year would make up all deficiencies created by the inability of any number of individuals to meet the entire charges.
In consequence of those reverses, so frequent in all human enterprises, the founder is at present unable to act in accordance with the impulses of his heart, to make all needed provisions for the enlargement and future success of the Institution. It would, therefore, seem to be the design of an all-wise Providence that others should share with him in the blessed privilege of carrying out this noble work. Institutions founded for great public purposes seem to rise in dignity and interest above all that can be true of mere private enterprises, however benevolent and praiseworthy their ends. And here I wish to make a suggestion to those who have been educated at this Seminary, whether now present or absent. In respect to the older Colleges in our country, their main reliance for those munificent provisions which are necessary from year to year, and age to age, in order that they may fulfil their high mission, is upon their Alumni. Associations of these are formed; and, though the language may seem somewhat paradoxical, they adopt their Alma Mater.
Why should not the same be done here? Let the one thousand who have already received the advantages of the Institution follow this example. Many have already extensive means at their disposal. Others are passing
30rapidly into positions where they will be able to command means, and all will have wide influence. Let, then, a judicious plan be formed, and this work entered upon with that practical efficiency so peculiar to woman, and it will be completely in the power of those educated here to accomplish for the daughters of this land, who shall come after them, one of the noblest works ever achieved. The example too would be sure to be imitated elsewhere. It would, therefore, seem to be in the power of those who have received their training at Monticello Seminary to take the lead in a grand movement, which perhaps furnishes the only solution of the problem, how adequate provisions can be made for the education of woman.
I will conclude this already protracted address by adverting briefly to some additional considerations, calculated to place the importance of an enterprise like this in its true light.
There is in the human mind, not only an instinctive dread of annihilation, but a strong and universal desire for prolonged existence, even on earth. This desire indeed is never overcome, except where the soul rises into the heights of Christian joy, and has such views of heaven as to be irresistibly drawn thitherward, or it sinks under such a load of calamity and sorrow as makes life a burden. But no strength of desire to the contrary can make this any other than a mortal state. There can, therefore, be no hope of any thing like real immortality on earth.
Still the night of death does not necessarily and absolutely shut down upon existence. After the sun is below the horizon, there is often a lingering twilight. Departed rays may stream up the darkened sky with an effulgence which they never had by day. Men may live in their characters — in their example — in the productions of their minds, or in deeds performed. We speak, for example, of the immortal Edwards — of the immortal works of Shakspeare or of Bunyan. Many an individual, though dead,
31yet speaketh with a power unknown in life. All along the track of history can be found those who are thus speaking. The world is full of Institutions, of monuments, material and intellectual and moral, and of memories and influences left by those whose mortal career terminated long ages since. For a period, therefore, and that indefinitely long, we may live a double life — the one real existence stretching on in eternity — the other a life of influence left behind, and operating upon successive generations as they rise upon the stage and pass away.
This twofold life is a legitimate object of intense desire, not, however, for simple immortality, whether nobly or ignobly acquired, like the wild enthusiast who fired the temple of Diana that posterity might know and remember that he once lived, but a desire for an immortality of blessed influence — an immortality coincident with the high and true ends of being.
In one view of the case, there is something inexpressibly sad connected with the extreme brevity of existence on earth. We see, for example, an individual who has reached the very summit of earthly attainment by achievements in science or other developments of intellectual power, or, in the great field of benevolent action, has apparently just acquired the fulness of his strength to bless the world — suddenly cut down — progression arrested — that lofty intellect paralyzed — or that burning soul, stricken from its orbit, and consigned to the darkness of the grave! What a burial of some of the fondest hopes indulged for a fallen race! — what a clouding of some of the brightest prospects that ever beamed on a darkened world!
But then how is this view of the case relieved by the consideration that influence does not end with life! That noble intellect may leave as a legacy to posterity its sublime productions for the instruction of mankind, or its contributions to science or general knowledge, so that, when that great light is extinguished on earth, the world
32shall not relapse into former comparative darkness, but move forward in a permanent progression. — That noble Christian hero, whose earthly career was so brief, and yet so brilliant, may leave behind a blaze of light that will illuminate succeeding generations. Or that faithful disciple, who, in the quiet walks of life, nobly fulfilled the ends of his existence, and left behind the savor of a pious example, is not dead when the grave closes over him. That life, which he lived by faith of the Son of God, was the centre from which there went out a silent, unconscious influence on every hand, ramifying and stretching away with a compass and a power never perhaps dreamed of by himself.
But no method of perpetuating influence can surpass, if it can equal this of opening fountains of intellectual and moral power that shall outlive founders and teachers, and flow on from age to age, and do their noble work, it may be till time shall be no longer. This will secure a "double life" that will add immensely to the interest and the glory of existence. More than one thousand minds already trained here! How soon will another thousand be added, and then another, and another! Thus the great stream of blessed influence will widen and deepen till lost in the ocean of eternity!
"Mr. Godfrey then, at an expense of some forty-five thousand dollars, erected and furnished a building of stone, 110 by 44 feet, and three stories high, over a basement. The two upper stories together contain 40 rooms, 9 or 10 by 16 1/2 feet, including a convenient clothes press, and each designed to accommodate two young ladies. The second story is divided into school-room, and recitation and family rooms. The basement into kitchen, dining hall and chapel.
"The Seminary grounds consist of about eight acres, neatly enclosed, with the buildings in the centre. This affords room for a spacious yard in front, and a garden in the rear. The design was to construct the buildings and lay out and enclose the grounds in such a way as to encourage habits of neatness and order, and make all the associations connected with education agreeable."