July 1, 1858

November 8, 2006

Commencement Day. Cool and clear. The graduating class came to me at eight o’clock for the purpose of agreeing on the way of receiving the degrees conferred. The customary procession was formed at 9:30 and led by music. We went to Linden Hall. I wore a black gown and Oxford cap. I assigned seats on the stage to the Trustees, Bishop DeLancey, the clergy and best men of all sorts. The Master’s oration was not heard – the speaker not being present, because he was not able to prepare an oration; so he wrote me. His name is Edward H. Jewett. Before conferring the degrees, the White Rhetorical and Greek prizes were presented; the former to Harvey Baldwin by Dr. Littlejohn, and the latter to John T. Wheeler. I awarded the Greek prize with words of deserved commendation.
Next in order was the dinner in Fremont Hall. After dinner took place the presentation of a solid silver vase to Rev. Dr. Hale, for twenty-two years President of Hobart College, and without salary. Rev. Dr. Van Rennselaer, on the part of the alumni and friends of the College, presented it to Dr. Hale with suitable words; and Malcolm Douglas[sic], (son-in-law of Dr. Hale) answered for the Doctor, or rather read an address written to those present by him, Dr. Van Rensselaer afterwards carried the vase to Dr. Hale in his hand.
Dr. Huson, (President of the Alumni, and who presided at the dinner), then read a Preamble and Resolutions voted by the said Society which greatly praised Dr. Hale for his services to Hobart College in the past. These ceremonies finished, the extemporaneous speeches went on,
1. I, first, for Hobart College,
2. General Stewart, Geneva.
3. Hon. H. B. Staunton, Seneca Falls,
4. Dr. Littlejohn,
5. Rev. Dr. Cressy, Auburn,
6. Rev. Mr. Neely, Rochester,
7. Rev. H. Winslow, Geneva,
8. Bishop DeLancey.
After the speaking the greater number went out on the lake on an excursion.
Four, at least, of those who were assembled at the dinner followed me with congratulatory words and proclaimed publicly their strongest belief in me for the future. Dr. Littlejohn bore most able testimony to me, so likewise Dr. Neely, Mr. Winslow, and Bishop DeLancey. God grant that I may be able to fulfill that hope. I went home tired enough; but to God be the praise that all things went off happily.
One, not ready, was sent away. O miserable one, among a class advancing to graduation!
The degree of B. A. was not conferred at the right time on George Herbert Patterson, because when his name was called he did not present himself with the class. This puzzled me. I wondered whether I ought to confer a degree as if upon one absent. When therefore I rose in the midst of the dinner to confer the degree I said, “To advance Hobart College it is necessary for each one to perform his whole duty. I did not complete a part of my duty to-day; but now in this gracious presence I ask of the Trustees and Alumni and friends of the College the privilege of conferring the omitted degree”. Turning then, I raised up the gown and cap lying near, and put them on. This done, I pronounced the words of the Bachelor’s Degree, which were received with enthusiastic applause.
I was in perturbation of mind the whole day; not thinking what people thought of me, but in what way everything should be done, according to the plan in my mind.
The excursion on the lake was cut short by the fall of a young man from the deck of the steamboat into the lake. They were not able to recover the body. This unfortunate event cast a gloom over the otherwise festal and happy day.


One Response to “July 1, 1858”

  1. Malcolm Douglass is spelled with two s’s. I don’t know if this was a transcription mistake, or Jackson’s.

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