Page images
PDF
EPUB

A graduating class of three met for the annual Commencement at Saybrook in September, 1716, the last College function to be held there. At a Trustee meeting in New Haven the next month, the decisive vote to remove to that town was carried, the "hovering posture” which Mr. Buckingham had deprecated fourteen years before was at an end, and Saybrook knew its student population no longer.

Much ingenuity has been wasted in the manufacture of reasons of New Haven's securing the College, but the problem is really a simple one. The deciding factors were the Trustees and the various towns which invited the College. But the affiliations of the majority of the Trustees were now naturally with the coast towns to the westwards; and while other offers of land and money were made, the most generous offer of all was from the citizens of New Haven.

In the grand list of taxable estates for 1716, New Haven stood at the head of the roll. She had just secured a new parish minister, Joseph Noyes, of Stonington, and by this means the valuable support of his father and uncle, the two senior Trustees, had been more or less openly diverted to her side. The Governor and the Lieutenant Governor were also commonly identified with the New Haven party, -Governor Saltonstall through his landed interests on the shores of Lake Saltonstall, and Lieutenant Governor Treat through his lifelong residence in Milford. It should, however, be said that the Governor, in a letter still extant, emphasizes strongly his careful abstention from any attempt to influence the Trustees.

The Hartford members of the Board made a long and gallant fight against the majority, but in vain. Charges of bad faith towards Saybrook were easily brought, but in view of the temporary nature of the first settlement there, they failed of support. As far as patronage went the vicinity of Hartford and the western coast had respectively sent about the same number of students during the Saybrook period; but at the time of this discussion, of the living Saybrook graduates nearly twice as many were resident in the New Haven region as in the neighborhood of Hartford, and this result exerted its natural influence. Mr. Mather, Mr. Buckingham's young successor in the Saybrook ministry, was not his equal in reputation or in influence, and was never made a Trustee of the College.

The bond of connection between the graduates and Saybrook was too slender to induce any active demonstration on their part; their loyalty was apparently transferred to New Haven without a murmur.

I have endeavored thus to tell without reserve or embellishment the plain story of the Collegiate School which found at Saybrook a friendly shelter in the days of its feebleness. It was a period in our annals not marked by specially picturesque incidents and not dominated by specially heroic or striking figures. A "manifest destiny," against which institutions no more than nations or individuals can struggle, carried the School away; but the memorial stone now erected on Saybrook Point will mark for posterity the spot where a great University was nurtured, where the stream of its influence, which has in the progress of the centuries embraced the whole earth, began its

course.

We gladly pay a tribute of honor to the fair town of our origin; while we have also to confess that Saybrook knew us only in an undeveloped, experimental stage. Our story is not unlike that of Kipling's "Ship that found herself.” Our pre-natal history goes back to the plan of a College which was part of the civil order devised by that sagacious leader, John Davenport, of New Haven. But while the region comprehnded under the original Colony of Connecticut had two centres—one in and about Hartford, and one in Saybrook—in neither of these was the College idea a component part as it was in the New Haven Jurisdiction. And so it came to pass that, although the College was launched in Saybrook, and there began her trial voyage, it was only after a doubtful period of stress and storm that she settled compactly and steadily to her work in the world; after half a generation of halting and hovering posture she “found herself," and thereby in consistency with the traditions of her origin brought the fame and glory of her ripened career to New Haven instead of to Saybrook.

REV. E. EDWARDS BEARDSLEY, D.D., LL.D.

BY THE RIGHT REV. BISHOP EDWIN S. LINES, D.D.

[Read May 19, 1902, on occasion of the presentation of a portrait of Dr. Beardsley to the Society, Dr. Lines being then President of the Society.]

It is my privilege this evening, for the New Haven Colony Historical Society, to receive the portrait of Rev. E. Edwards Beardsley, D.D., LL.D. a former president of the Society and one of its founders; from 1818 to 1891 Rector of St. Thomas's Church in this city and through a long and honored life closely associated with New Haven and Connecticut. I am sure that I speak for all the members of the Historical Society in expressing most sincere thanks for the portrait. Dr. Beardsley was deeply interested in this Society; a vice president from the founding in 1862 to 1873, and president to 1884. The Society owes much to his labors and his wisdom in its earlier history. Hardly any portrait could with more fitness have place in this hall.

It is fitting also that in this place and at this time, the story of the life and services of Dr. Beardsley should be told. He will never be forgotten by those who knew him or were associated with him. By his historical writings he has made all students of American history his debtors, and they will remember him. But a new generation may well be told who he was and what he did. The reverent remembrance of the men who have served well the community and the state is a gracious part of the work of this Society, and in that spirit we meet here to-night.

Dr. Beardsley was a typical Connecticut man and so a very interesting man to study. Many of the traits which have given the Commonwealth name and influence were found in him. In some other parts of New England the fact that he was a minister of the Episcopal Church might have separated him from the life of the community, but not in Connecticut, where his Church was not associated with royal chaplaincies, but had its good traditions bound in with all the rest, in the Colonial life. I found in the years from 1868 to 1891 in personal acquaintance, and I find in him now as I recall the completed story of his life, the plain, and sturdy qualities and virtues which have made Connecticut and New England honored and influential; and very likely it is rather in this way than as a clergyman that I shall ask you to think of him. But we all know that Dr. Beardsley would have wished any one who should undertake to speak of his life and work to emphasize his relation to and his love for the Church whose minister he was.

Dr. Beardsley was born January 8th, 1808, in what is now known as Monroe, in Fairfield County, formerly called New Stratford. From his childhood Dr. Beardsley was to see his birthday kept with national rejoicing as the anniversary of the battle of New Orleans. On the eighth day of January, 1890, his eighty-second birthday, Dr. Beardsley began to jot down some of the principal incidents of his life. It is characteristic that he began with noting the fact that he was of a goodly Church lineage, the descendant of William Beardsley, one of the first settlers of Stratford, the grandson of Elisha Beardsley, who was baptized by Rev. Dr. Johnson of Stratford, a vestryman and clerk of St. Paul's Church, Huntington, from 1768 to 1812, and thereafter a warden until his death, in 1824. The father of Dr. Beardsley, Elihu, was a farmer and his mother was Ruth Edwards, daughter of William and Charity (Beach) Edwards. So Dr. Beardsley received from his mother's family the honored Connecticut name of Edwards, which he used rather than his first name, Eben. He was the oldest of four sons, and that brought, in the family of a Connecticut farmer, special duties. Work upon the farm, attendance at the village school, filled up his boyhood. At sixteen, at the Staples Academy, Weston, he began classical studies, and then for a few seasons taught a district school, "boarding around." Now determined to prepare for College, he went to the Episcopal Academy at Norwalk, under the oversight of Rev. Reuben Sherwood, Yale 1813, Rector of St. Paul's Church, Norwalk, having Rev. Allen L. Morgan, Yale 1826, as the Head Master, a very promising scholar, whose early death in 1838, when principal of the Diocesan Academy at Cheshire, was a great loss to the School and to the Church.

Trinity College had been founded as Washington College in 1823, and the Church people of Connecticut were doing all in their power to build it up. Dr. Beardsley, in sympathy with this feeling, entered the College as a freshman in 1828. He recalls, in his notes, the long rides across the country, to reach New Haven in time to take the stage coach for Hartford. Evidently the four years in College were filled with good, honest work; the spare time used for reading, literature being the favorite study. He read the best authors and wrote constantly. He won an honorable place in his class at graduation and a sum of money, received for a tale sent to one of the magazines of the day, seemed to him the best money ever earned or received.

Dr. Beardsley taught for one year in Hartford, and then for two years was a tutor in College, pursuing also theological studies by himself, or with such help as the College afforded. He was ordained Deacon by Bishop Brownell, August 11, 1835, and was immediately placed in charge of St. Peter's Church, Cheshire, that the combination of the offices of rectorship of the Parish and principal of the Academy might be broken. He was ordained Priest in St. Peter's Church, Cheshire, by Bishop Brownell, October 24, 1836. The Academy had fallen upon evil days. The interest of Church people had been diverted from it by the founding of Trinity College, by unsuccessful principals, by financial losses. Renewed prosperity came with the call to the School from St. John's Church, Waterbury, of Rev. Allen C. Morgan,—Dr. Beardsley's old school master in Norwalk. But in two years, death removed him and left the School without a head. The Trustees turned at once to Dr. Beardsley, in 1838, and he assumed the care of the School in connection with the parish. In his time the Academy became

« PreviousContinue »