Return to Hiram

Teacher of Ancient Languages and Literature—Only Eight Years from Tow-path—His Ambition—Heart at Hiram—At Head of Institution— Principal—“Capturing Boys”—Garfield’s Account of Two —What President Hinsdale Says—The Soiled Place on the Wall —The Task and Lesson from it—Studying under Compulsion— Punctuality and Promptness—Preaching and Practice—Amusing Scene—The Turning-point of Life—His Numerous Lectures— Debate with Denton—Testimony of Rev. J.L. Darsie—Lectures on Teaching—The Drama—An Impersonator—Speeches—Studied Law—A Preacher—Married, Nov. 11, 1858—The Books He Valued—Commencement and Roughs—More from Mr. Darsie

The trustees of Hiram Institute elected Garfield “Teacher of Ancient Languages and Literature” before his return to the school. His welcome back was a hearty one. His acceptance of the position was equally hearty.

His position was now a high and honourable one, although he was but nine years removed from the tow-path of the Ohio and Pennsylvania Canal. Into that nine years was crowded labours, struggles, and triumphs, the like of which we can scarcely find in the annals of human effort.

“I have attained to the height of my ambition,” he said to a friend. “I have my diploma from an Eastern college, and my position here as instructor; and now I shall devote all my energies to this Institute.”

He had no intention of entering the ministry permanently, as many supposed, nor had he aspirations for a political career. He was content to be a teacher at Hiram, ambitious to make the school the pet of the Western Reserve if possible. He might have secured positions where double the salary was paid; but he was satisfied to teach at Hiram for eight hundred dollars a year. No board of trustees could lure him away by the offer of a princely income. His heart was at Hiram, and he meant that his best efforts should be there.

He brought from Williams College a profound reverence for Dr. Hopkins, the president, as an instructor and scholar of great ability. He profited by the lessons he learned at his feet, and augmented the value of his own labours by imitating him as far as practicable. He was not long in convincing the board that, successful as he was in teaching before entering Williams College, his ability in that sphere was largely increased by his collegiate course. At the end of the first year he was placed at the head of the institution, with the title, “Chairman of the Board of Instructors,” and one year later was made PRINCIPAL. In eleven years from the time he left the tow-path of the canal he was installed Principal of the “Eclectic Institute of the Western Reserve,” where three hundred young ladies and gentlemen were pursuing a course of education.

One of his successful points, as instructor, was to discover young men of superior talents and persuade them to acquire a liberal education. Sometimes their fathers would put a veto upon such a project, when he was forced to try his logic and persuasive powers upon them. He called this “capturing boys,” and he enjoyed it hugely. There are many bright intellects now adorning the learned professions of the country that would have been unknown to fame but for his persistent efforts in “capturing” them. President Hinsdale, who now presides over Hiram College, was one of them—one of the ablest and most remarkable scholars of the land. Garfield tells the story of the capture of two boys as follows:

“I have taken more solid comfort in the thing itself, and received more moral recompense and stimulus in after life, from capturing young men for an education than from anything else in the world.

“As I look back over my life thus far, I think of nothing that so fills me with pleasure as the planning of these sieges, the revolving in my mind of plans for scaling the walls of the fortress; of gaining access to the inner soul life, and at last seeing the besieged party won to a fuller appreciation of himself, to a higher conception of life, and of the part he is to bear in it. The principal guards which I have found it necessary to overcome in gaining these victories are the parents or guardians of the young men themselves. I particularly remember two such instances of capturing young men from their parents. Both of those boys are to-day educators, of wide reputation—one president of a college, the other high in the ranks of graded-school managers. Neither, in my opinion, would to-day have been above the commonest walks

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.