In College

Appearance before Dr. Hopkins—The Hand-shake—Impressions of Dr.H.—Enters Junior Class—Spent Vacation in Library—Grand Scenery—Explorations—Impression he First Made on the Students— An Accurate Scholar—Sticking to Things—In roleof Debater— Testimony of a Classmate as to Standing—German— College Games—Williams Quarterly—His Poem—Teaching Penmanship in Vacation—Next Vacation in New York—Teacher and Preacher—Offered Post in Troy High School—Arguments For and Against—The Suit of Clothes—Trouble about Money—Help Found—Visit to his Mother—Anti-slavery Excitement—Charles Sumner—Goodrich’s Speech—Garfield’s Speech on Fremont—A Greater One on Assault upon Sumner—Reading—Graduates with Highest Honour—Testimony of Dr. Hopkins and President Chadbourne

At the close of the summer term at Williams College, candidates for admission, who presented themselves, were examined. James presented himself to Dr. Hopkins very different, in his personal appearance, from the well-worded and polished letter that he wrote to him. One describes him “As a tall, awkward youth, with a great shock of light hair, rising nearly erect from a broad, high forehead, and an open, kindly, and thoughtful face, which showed no traces of his long study with poverty and privation.” His dress was thoroughly western, and very poor at that. It was evident to Dr. Hopkins that the young stranger before him did not spend much time at his toilet; that he cared more for an education than he did for dress. Of course Dr. Hopkins did not recognise him.

“My name is Garfield, from Ohio,” said James. That was enough. Dr. Hopkins recalled the capital letter which the young man wrote. His heart was in his hand at once, and he repeated the cordial handshake that James felt when he read in the doctor’s letter, “If you come here, we shall be glad to do what we can for you.” James felt at home once. It was such a kind, fatherly greeting, that he felt almost as if he had arrived home. He never had a natural father whom he could remember, but now he had found an intellectual father, sure, and he was never happier in his life. Yet a reverential awe possessed his soul as he stood before the president of the college, whose massive head and overhanging brow denoted a giant in intellect. James was perfectly satisfied that he had come to the right place now; he had no wish to be elsewhere. He had read Dr. Hopkins’s Lectures on the “Evidences of Christianity,” and now the author impressed him just as the book did when he read it. The impression of greatness was uppermost.

James passed the examination without any difficulty, and was admitted to the Junior class. Indeed, his examination was regarded as superior. He was qualified to stand abreast with the Juniors, who had spent Freshman and Sophomore years in the colleges. And this fact illustrates the principle of thoroughness, for which we have said James was distinguished. In a great measure he had been his own teacher in the advanced studies that he must master in order to enter the Junior class; yet he was thoroughly prepared.

“You can have access to the college library if you remain here during the summer vacation,” said Dr. Hopkins to him. “If you enjoy reading, you will have a good opportunity to indulge your taste for it.”

“I shall remain here during vacation, and shall be thankful for the privilege of using the library,” answered James. “I have not had the time to read what I desire, hitherto, as I have had to labour and teach, to pay my bills. It will be a treat for me to spend a few weeks in reading, with nothing else to do.”

Dr. Hopkins gave him excellent advice and words of encouragement, not only for vacation, but for term time as well; and James found himself revelling among books within a few days. He had never seen a library of such dimensions as that into which he was now introduced, and his voracious mental appetite could now partake of a “square meal.” One of the authors whom he desired to know was Shakespeare. He had read only such extracts from his writings as he had met with in other volumes. Therefore he took up a volume containing Shakespeare’s entire works with peculiar satisfaction. He read and studied it, studied and read it, committing portions of it to memory, and fairly made the contents of the book his own. His great familiarity with the works of Shakespeare dates from that period. Certain English poets, also, he read and studied for the first time; and he committed a number of poems to memory. Works of fiction he rejected, from principle. When he joined the Disciples’ Church, he resolved to read no novels.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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