The Whitney Memorial Meeting/Address II

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The Whitney Memorial Meeting
Charles Rockwell Lanman, edited by Charles Rockwell Lanman
Memorial Address

Boston: Ginn and Company, pages 7–28



Of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Ladies and Gentlemen,— There are some among us who can remember the time when "a certain condescension in foreigners" easily gave us pain. There was little achievement behind us as a people to awaken us to national self-consciousness and to a realizing sense of our own great possibilities. Time is changing all that. The men have come, and some, alas! are already gone, of whose achievements we may well be proud wherever we are. In the battles for the conquests of truth there are no distinctions of race. It needs no international congress to tell us that we belong to one great army. But to-night—as the very titles of these gathered societies show—Science has marshalled us, her fifties and her hundreds, as Americans. We look for the centurion, for the captain of the fifties; and he is no more! And we call, as did David, lamenting for Abner, "Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel," yea, and like Jonathan, "in the midst of the battle?"

It is in the spirit of generous laudation that we are assembled to do honor to our illustrious countryman. And it is well. AYe may praise him now; for he is gone. But I cannot help thinking of a touching legend of the Buddha. Nigh fifty years he has wandered up and down in Ganges-land, teaching and preaching. And now he is about to die. Flowers fall from the sky and heavenly quires are heard to sing his praise. "But not by all this," he answers,—"but not by all this, O Ananda, is the Teacher honored; but the disciple who shall fulfil all the greater and lesser duties,—by him is the Teacher honored." It is fitting, then, that we pause, not merely to praise the departed, but also to consider the significance of a noble life, and the duties and responsibilities which so great an example urges upon us,—in short, the lesson of a life of service.

It would be vain to endeavor, within the narrow limits which the present occasion imposes, to rehearse or to characterize with any completeness the achievements that make up this remarkable life. Many accounts[1] of it have been given of late in the public prints. Permit me rather to lay before you, by way of selection merely, a few facts concerning Mr. Whitney which may serve to illustrate certain essential features of his character and fundamental motives of his life.

And indubitably first in importance no less than in natural order is the great fact of his heredity. William Dwight Whitney was born, in 1827, at Northampton, Massachusetts, and in his veins flowed the best blood of a typical New England community, of the Dwights and the Hawleys,—heroes of the heroic age of Hampshire. His stock was remarkable for sturdy vigor, both of body and of intellect, and was in fact that genuine aristocracy which, if it be true to its traditions, will remain —as for generations it has been—one of the prime guarantees of the permanence of democracy in America. Few places in this land have produced a proportionately greater number of distinguished people than has Northampton. Social advantages were thus added to those of birth, and to all these in turn the advantages of dwelling in a region of great natural beauty.

It was in William Whitney's early infancy that his father moved into a dwelling built on the precise site of the Jonathan Edwards house. This dwelling was the second in a row of six neighboring houses, all of which could boast of more or less notable occupants. In the first lived Dr. Seeger, who was educated at the same school and time as Schiller, at "the Solitude." Beyond the Whitneys' was the house in which lived Lewis S. Hopkins, the father of Edward W. Hopkins, the Sanskrit scholar of Bryn Mawr. The fourth was the original homestead of the Timothy Dwights, in which the first Yale President of that name, and Theodore, the Secretary of the Hartford Convention and founder of the New York "Daily Advertiser," were born, both grandsons of Jonathan Edwards. The adjoining place was the home of the elder Sylvester Judd, and of his son Sylvester, the author of "Margaret;" and the sixth house was occupied by the Italian political exile, Gherardi, and later by Dr. William Allen, ex-President of Bowdoin College.

Whitney was a mere boy of fifteen when he entered Williams College as a sophomore. Three years later (in 1845) he had easily outstripped all his classmates and graduated with the highest honors; and with all that, he found ample time to range the wooded hills of Berkshire, collecting birds, which he himself set up for the Natural History Society. The next three or four years were spent by him as clerk in the Northampton Bank, with accounts for his work, German and Swedish for his studies, ornithology and botany for his recreations, and music for his delight,—unless one should rather say that all was his delight. These oft-mentioned studies in natural history I should not linger over, save that their deep significance has hardly been adverted upon in public. They mean that, even at this early age, Whitney showed the stuff which distinguishes the genuine man of science from the jobbers and pedlers of learning. They mean that, with him, the gift of independent and accurate observation was inborn, and that the habit of unprejudiced reflection upon what he himself saw was easily acquired.

This brings us to a critical period in the determination of his career. In the encyclopedias, Whitney is catalogued as a famous Indianist, and so indeed he was. But it was not because he was an Indianist that he was famous. Had he devoted his life to the physical or natural sciences, he would doubtless have attained to equal, if not greater eminence. Truly, it is not the what, but the how! That he did devote himself to Indology appears to be due to several facts which were in themselves and in their concomitance accidental. First, his elder brother, Josiah, now the distinguished professor of geology in Harvard University, on his return from Europe in 1847, had brought with him books in and on many languages, and among them a copy of the second edition of Bopp's Sanskrit Grammar. Second, it chanced that the Rev. George E. Day, a college-mate at Yale of Professor Salisbury, was Whitney's pastor. And third, he met with Eduard Desor.

There is in possession of Professor Whitney of Harvard a well-worn volume of his father's called the Family Fact-book. It is, I am sure, no breach of confidence if I say, in passing, that this book, with its varied entries in all varied moods and by divers gifted hands, is the reflex of a most remarkable family life and feeling. In it, among many other things, are brief autobiographic annals of the early life of William Whitney, and in its proper place the following simple entry: "In the winter of 1848-49 commenced the study of Sanskrit, encouraged to it by Rev. George E. Day. In June, 1849, went out with Josiah to Lake Superior as 'assistant subagent' on the Geological Survey." To William Whitney were intrusted the botany, the barometrical observations, and the accounts. And although the ornithology was not formally intrusted to him, there is abundant evidence that he was habitually on the look-out for the birds, with keen eye and with attentive ear. He must, already, in the spring, have made substantial progress by himself in Sanskrit; for his article (almost the first that he published) entitled "On the Sanskrit Language," a translation and abridgment of von Bohlen, appeared in the Augnist number of the "Bibliotheca Sacra" for 1849, and must therefore have been finished before he left home. With him, accordingly, he took his brother's copy of Bopp.

Besides the two brothers, there was a third man-of-power in the little company that spent the summer among the swamps and mosquitoes of the great copper region. That man was Eduard Desor, already a young naturalist of distinction, and afterward famous both in science and in public life in Switzerland. He had come only a short time before, with Agassiz, and as his friend and intimate associate in scientific undertakings, from Neufchâtel to Cambridge. He was by nature full of the purest love for science; and that love had been quickened to ardent enthusiasm by his own work, and by his intercourse with other bright minds and eager workers whom he had known in Paris and Neufchâtel and in the Swiss glacier-camps of Agassiz. Small wonder if the intimate relations of that summer's camp-life in common gave opportunity for potent influence of the brilliant young Huguenot upon the brilliant young Puritan. It is to Desor, and to his words and example, that my Cambridge colleague attributes in large measure his brother's determination to devote himself to a life of science rather than to business or to one of the learned professions. That the chosen department was Sanskrit may be ascribed in part to the accident of the books thrown in his way; in part to the interest of the language and antiquities of India, intrinsically and as related to our own; and in part to the undeniable fascination which the cultivation of the virgin soil of an almost untrodden field has for a mind of unusual energy, vigor, and originality.

William Whitney has left a full and interesting journal of this summer. Tuesday, July 24, while waiting for the uncertain propeller to come and rescue them from the horrible insect pests, he writes from Copper Harbor: "For my part, I intend attacking Sanskrit grammar to-morrow." And then, on Wednesday: "I have, after all, managed to get thro the day without having recourse to the Sanskrit, but it has been a narrow escape." And five weeks later, from Carp River: "Another day of almost inaction, most intolerable and difficult to be borne. How often have I longed for that Sanskrit grammar which I so foolishly sent down before me to the Sault!"

The autumn of 1849, accordingly, found him at New Haven, and in company with Professor Hadley, studying under Edward Elbridge Salisbury, the Professor of the Arabic and Sanskrit Languages and Literature. The veteran Indologist of Berlin, Professor Weber, has said that he and Professor Roth account it as one of their fairest honors that they had Whitney as a pupil. To have had both a Whitney and a Hadley at once is surely an honor that no American teacher in the departments here represented this evening can match. In a man whose soul was beclouded with the slightest mist of false pretension or of selfishness, we may well imagine that the progress of such pupils might easily have occasioned a pang of jealousy. But Mr. Salisbury's judgment upon them illuminates his own character no less than that of his pupils wlien he says, "Their quickness of perception and unerring exactness of acquisition soon made it evident that the teacher and the taught must change places."

We have come to the transition period of Whitney's life. He is still a pupil, but already also an incipient master. "1850, Sept. 20. Sailed for Germany in the steamer Washington. Spent three winters in Berlin, studying especially with Dr. Weber, and two summers in Tübingen, Würtemberg, with Professor Roth." Thus runs the entry in the Fact-book. A few lines later we read: "Leaving Berlin in April, 1853, stayed six weeks in Paris, three in Oxford, and seven in London (collating Sanskrit manuscripts), and then returned in the steamer Niagara, arriving in Boston Aug. 5." Such is the modest record that covers the three momentous years of the beginning of a splendid scientific career. For in this brief space he had not only laid broad and deep foundations, by studies in Persian, Arabic, Egyptian, and Coptic, but had also done a large part of the preliminary work for the edition of the Atharva-Veda,—as witness the volumes on the table before you, which contain his Berlin copy of that Veda and his Paris, Oxford, and London collations.

Meantime, however, at Yale, his honored teacher and faithful friend. Professor Salisbury, "with true and self-forgetting zeal for the progress of Oriental studies" (these are Mr. Whitney's own words), had been diligently preparing the way for him; negotiating with the corporation for the establishment of a chair of Sanskrit, surrendering pro tanto his own office, and providing for the endowment of the new cathedra; leaving, in short, no stone untiu'ned to insure the fruitful activity of his young colleague. Nor did hope wait long upon fulfilment; for in 1856, only a trifle more than two years from his induction, Whitney had, as joint editor with Professor Roth, achieved a most distinguished service for science by the issue of the editio princeps of the Atharva-Veda, and that before he was thirty.

In September, 1869,—that is to say, in the very month in which began the first college year of President Eliot's administration,—Whitney was called to Harvard. It reflects no less credit upon Mr. Eliot's discernment of character and attainments than upon Mr. Whitney's surpassing gifts that the youthful president should turn to him, among the very first, for aid in helping to begin the great work of transforming the provincial college into a national university. The prospect of losing such a man was matter of gravest concernment to all Yale College, and in particular to her faithful benefactor, Professor Salisbury. Within a week the latter had provided for the endowment of Mr. Whitney's chair upon the ampler scale made necessary by the change of the times; and the considerations which made against the transplanting of the deeply rooted tree had, unhappily for Harvard, their chance to prevail, and Whitney remained at New Haven.

It was during his studies under Mr. Salisbury, in May, 1850, that he was elected a member of the American Oriental Society. Mr. Salisbury was the life and soul of the Society, and, thanks to his learning, his energy, and his munificence, the organization had already attained to "standing and credit in the world of scholars." Like him, Mr. Whitney was a steadfast believer in the obligation of which the very existence of these assembled societies is an acknowledgment,—the obligation of professional men to help in "co-operative action in behalf of literary and scientific progress;" and, more than that, to do so at real personal sacrifice.

The first meeting at which Mr. Whitney was present was held October 26, 1853. More than thirty-three years passed, and he wrote from the sick-room: "It is the first time in thirty-two years that I have been absent from a meeting of the American Oriental Society, except when out of the country." His first communication to the Society was read by Mr. Salisbury, October 13, 1852; and his last, in March, 1894, at the last meeting before his death. Of the seven volumes, vi.-xii., of the Society's Journal, more than half of the contents arc from his pen, to say nothing of his numerous and important papers in the Proceedings. In 1857, the most onerous office of the Society, that of Corresponding Secretary, which from the beginning carried with it the duty of editing the publications, was devolved upon him; and he bore its burdens for twenty-seven years. Add to this eighteen years as Librarian and six as President, and we have an aggregate of fifty-one years of official service. The American Philological Association, too, is under deep obligation to Whitney. He was one of its founders, and, very fittingly, its first president. For many years he was one of the most constant attendants at its meetings, a valued counsellor, and one of its most faithful helpers and contributors.

Some might think it a matter of little importance, but it is certainly a significant one, that, after paying his Oriental Society assessments for about thirty-five years, at last, and when facing mortal illness, he paid over the considerable sum required to make himself a life member. A little later,—for the candle still burned,—and with strictest injunction of secrecy during his lifetime, he sent to the Treasurer his check for a thousand dollars of his modest savings, to help toward defraying the Society's expenses of publication, and in the hope that it might serve as a "suggestion and encouragement to others to do likewise."

Added to all this was his service in keeping up the very high scientific standard of the Society's publications. The work of judging and selecting required wide knowledge, and the making of abstracts much labor; while the revision or recasting of the papers of tyros unskilled in writing demanded endless painstaking, not always met by gratitude and docility. All this cost him a lavish bestowal of time, of which hardly any one in the Society knew, and that for the reason that he took no steps to have them know. So exemplary was his freedom from self-seeking in all his relations with the Society.

The rehearsal of the titles of Mr. Whitney's books and treatises would give to this address too much the character of a bibliographical essay; and, besides, it would merely tend to impress hearers who are accustomed to count volumes rather than to weigh them. His distinguishing qualities, as reflected in his work, are everywhere so palpable that it is not hard to describe them. Perhaps the most striking and pervading one is that which Professor Lounsbury calls his "thorough intellectual sanity." In reading his arguments, whether constructive or critical, one can hardly help exclaiming, How near to first principles are the criteria of the most advanced theories and high-stepping deliverances! With him, the impulse to prick the bubble of windy hypothesis upon the diamond-needle (as the Hindus call it) of hard common-sense was often irresistible, and sometimes irresistibly funny. Witness this passage from his boyish journal: "On entering the river [the St. Mary's], we found ourselves in an archipelago of small islands, which stretches from the Sault down to the foot of the Georgian Bay. ─── says [that] ─── actually visited thirty-six thousand such islands, . . . which in my opinion is a whopper. To have done it, he must have stopped upon ten a day, every day for ten years." This may seem triviaL In fact, it is typical. It is in essence the same kind of treatment that he gave in later life to any loose statement or extravagant theory, although printed in the most dignified journal and propounded by the most redoubtable authority.

Breadth and thoroughness are ever at war with each other in men, for that men are finite. The gift of both in large measure and at once,—this marks the man of genius. That the gift was Whitney's is clear to any one who considers the versatility of his mind, the variousness of his work, and the quality of his results. As professor of Sanskrit, technical work in grammar, lexicography, text-criticism, and the like, lay nearest to him; but with all this, he still found strength to illuminate by his insight many questions of general linguistic theory, the origin of language, phonetics, the difficult subject of Hindu astronomy and the question of its derivation, the method and technique of translation, the science of religion, mythology, linguistic ethnology, alphabetics, and paleography, and much else. Astonishing is the combination of technical knowledge in widely diverse fields which appears in his elaborately annotated translation of the famous Sanskrit astronomical treatise called Sūryasiddhānta, and which, again, he brought to bear upon his criticisms of earlier and later attempts to determine the age of the Veda by its references to solar eclipses, and by its alleged implications respecting the place of the equinoctial colures.

But not only in respect of contents were Whitney's writings of conspicuous merit; he had also the sense of form and proportion,—that sense for lack of which the writings of many a scholar of equal learning are almost nugatory. At twenty-two, his English style had the charms of simplicity, clearness, and vigor, and they held out to the last. And what could be more admirable than his beautiful essay,—a veritable classic,—"The Vedic Doctrine of a Future Life"? His subjects, indeed, if treated seriously, do not lend themselves to the graces of rhetorical or ornate writing; and his concise and pregnant periods sometimes mock the flippant or listless reader. But his presentation, whether of argmnent or of scientific generalization, is always a model of lucidity, of orderly exposition, and of due subordination of the parts. This was a matter on which he felt deeply; for his patience was often sorely tried by papers for whose slovenliness in diction, arrangement, and all the externals of which he was a master, the authors fondly thought that their erudition was forsooth an excuse.

Indeed, for the matter of printer's manuscript, more than once has Boehtlingk, the Nestor of Indianists, taxed him home with making it too good, declaring it a wicked sin to put time on such things, though playfully admitting the while that he had killed off with his own desperate copy I cannot remember how many luckless type-setters in the office of the Russian Academy.

Where there was so much of the best, it is not feasible to go into details about all. Yet I cannot omit mention of some of his masterpieces. Very notable is his "Language and the Study of Language,"—a work of wide currency, and one which has done more than any other in this country to promote sound and intelligent views upon the subjects concerned. It deals with principles, with speculative questions, and with broad generalizations,—the very things in which his mastery of material, self-restraint, even balance of mind, and rigorous logic come admirably into play.

Of a wholly different type, but not one whit inferior withal, are his Prātiçākhyas. These are the phoneticogrammatical treatises upon the text of the Vedas, and are of prime importance for the establishment of the text. Their distinguishing feature is minutiæ, of marvellous exactness, but presented in such a form that no one with aught less than a tropical Oriental contempt for the value of time can make anything out of them as they stand. Whitney not only out-Hindus the Hindu for minutiæ, but also—such is his command of form—actually recasts the whole, so that it becomes a book of easy reference.

As for the joint edition of the Atharva-Veda, it is a most noteworthy fact that it has held its own now for thirty-eight years as an unsurpassed model of what a Vedic text-edition ought to be. His "Index Verborum to the Atharva-Veda," a work of wonderful completeness and accuracy, is much more than its name implies, and may not pass without brief mention, inasmuch as its material formed the basis of his contributions to the Sanskrit-German lexicon published by the Imperial Academy of Russia. This great seven-volumed quarto, whose steady progress through the press took some three and twenty years, is the Sanskrit Stephanus. Americans may well be proud of the fact that to Whitney belongs the distinguished honor of being one of the four "faithful collaborators" who, next to the authors, Boehtlingk and Roth, contributed most to this monumental work.

Of all his technical works, his "Sanskrit Grammar," with its elaborate supplement, "The Roots, Verb-forms, and Primary Derivatives of the Sanskrit Language," forms the crowning achievement. Here he casts off the bonds of tradition wherever they might hamper his free scientific procedure, and approaches the phenomena of language in essentially the same spirit and attitude of mind as that in which Darwin or Helmholtz grappled the problems of their sciences. The language is treated historically, and as the product of life and growth; and the work is filled with the results of scores of minute and far-reaching special investigations. The amount of material which is here subjected to rigorous and original methods of classification and scientific induction is enormous; and none but those who were familiar with his writing-table can well realize the self-restraint that he used in order to bring his results into moderate compass.

In all these technical works there is little that appeals to the popular imagination, and absolutely nothing to catch the applause of the groundlings; but much, on the other hand, to win the confidence of the judicious. It was therefore natural that Whitney should be sought as editor-in-chief for what is in every sense by far the greatest lexicographical achievement of America, "The Century Dictionary." And despite the ability and size of the editorial staff, we may well believe that this office was no sinecure; for the settlement of the principles of procedure demanded the full breadth of learning, the largeness of view, and the judicial temper of a master mind. Among the great body of his countrymen, this will be Whitney's best-known monument.

Mr. Whitney was a genuine lover of nature and of the world out of doors no less than of his books; and so, with his keen sense of humor and love of fun, he was a charming companion for the woods and hills. Physical courage, too, abounded, often with a daring impulse to meet bodily risk and danger, as when he climbed the so-called Look-off Pine, about one hundred and thirty feet high, a monarch overtopping the primeval forests of the Ontonagon River, and broke off its top as a trophy; or as when, with his brother, he indulged in the youthful escapade of passing the forbidden point of the spire of Strasburg Cathedral by clambering out and around the point of obstruction on the outside, and of mounting thence toward the summit as far as there was any opening within the spire large enough to contain a man's body. He was intensely American, in the best sense of the word; and his patriotism, aside from its loftier manifestations (of which a moment later), showed itself in some lesser ways not iinpleasing to recall. In describing his passage through the wilds of the Detroit River, he says in that youthful journal, "There was little difference in the appearance of the two sides; but I endeavored to persuade myself that the American offered evidence of more active and successful industry than the British."

I venture to quote in part the words and in part the substance of a recent letter from one of his old pupils. There is no one, said this pupil, whose privilege it was to know him more intimately, who could not speak of the deep tenderness underlying his ordinary reserve, of his profound sympathy with difficulty and misfortune, and of his ever-steadfast loyalties. Of the last a touching illustration is found in his remembrance of the Schaal family, in whose house auf dem Graben he lodged during his Tübingen summers of 1851 and 1852. Nearly forty years later he wrote to this pupil, then in Tübingen, asking him to seek out the Schaals, and to be the bearer of kindly messages to them. Fraulein Schaal spoke of the delight her mother and herself had felt at the messages sent them by the professor who had become so celebrated, but who had not forgotten them, and showed the visitor Professor Whitney's room, all unchanged, a typical Studentenzimmer; in the middle, a long plain table, and by it an uncushioned arm-chair. That, said she, was Professor Whitney's chair, and in it he used to sit for hours at that table, almost without moving. When he moved the chair more than a little, I knew that it was time for me to take him his mug of beer, and perchance a bit of bread. And, as a very small girl then, I wondered at the table, which was covered with little bits of paper, which he had arranged in a certain order, and was very particular that no one should disturb. The only adornment which he had in the room was an American flag draped over the mirror; and on the Fourth of July he said he would work an hour less than usual, as it was the anniversary of American independence. The flag was the symbol of a true passion; and in his toils for truth he felt that he was working, first for the welfare, and second for the glory of his country. And as for the latter, how many an American student in Germany has been proud of the generous recognition of Whitney's success! Years ago, continues the letter, I was exchanging a few words with a famous Orientalist. The Herr Professor kindly asked me from what part of America I came. New Jersey, I told him, and his face grew very blank. I know Connecticut, said he. And he knew Connecticut, as did his colleagues, largely because he knew Whitney. So much for the letter of a loving and beloved pupil.

It suggests withal an inquiry: What was the secret of Whitney's great productivity? In the first instance,—it is almost needless to say,—his native gifts. But it is far from true that native gifts are always fruitful. Next to them came his power of discerning what was the really important thing to do, and his habit—self-imposed, and enforced with Spartan rigor—of doing something every working-day upon that really important thing, and, above all, of doing that something first. Such was his regularity that even the dire necessity— which arose in 1882—of moving from one dwelling-house into another did not break it. "Even moving," he writes, "I expect to find consistent with regular doses of Talavakāra, etc." The "art of judicious slighting" was a household word in his family, a weapon of might; its importance to the really great is equalled only by its perilousness in the hands of the unskilful. His plans were formed with circumspection, with careful counting of the cost, and then adhered to with the utmost persistence, so that he left behind him nothing fragmentary. We may change Goldsmith's epitaph to suit the case, and say that Whitney put his hand to nothing that he did not carry out,—nihil quod incepit non perfecit.

And what shall I say of the lesser virtues that graced him? As patient as the earth, say the Hindus. And endless patience was his where patience was in place. And how beautiful was his gentleness, his kindness to those from whom he looked for nothing again, his gratitude to those who did him a service! And how especially well did the calm dignity which was ever his wont become him when he presided at the meetings of learned societies! How notable the brevity with which he presented his papers! No labored reading from a manuscript, but rather a simple and facile account of results. An example, surely! He who had the most to say used in proportion the least time in saying it. And this was indeed of a piece with his most exemplary habit, as editor of the publications of the Oriental Society, of keeping his own name so far in the background. For how genuine was his modesty of bearing, of speech, and of soul!

And in harmony therewith was his reverence for things hallowed.

He counted not himself to have attained,
This doughty toiler on the paths of truth;
And scorned not them who lower heights had reached.

As was his attitude toward things sacred, so also was it toward those who went before him in science. He did not speak sneeringly of what they, with lesser light, had achieved. And to him Aristotle was none the less a giant because some dwarf on a giant's shoulders can see farther than the giant himself.

If I may cite my own words used on a former occasion, Whitney's life-work shows three important lines of activity,—the elaboration of strictly technical works, the preparation of educational treatises, and the popular exposition of scientific questions. The last two methods of public service are direct and immediate, and to be gainsaid of none; yet even here the less immediate results are doubtless the ones by which he would have set most store. As for the first, some may incline to think the value of an edition of the Veda or of a Sanskrit grammar—to say nothing of a Prātiçākhya—extremely remote; they certainly won for him neither money nor popular applause; and yet, again, such are the very works in which we cannot doubt he took the deepest satisfaction. He realized their fundamental character, knew that they were to play their part in unlocking the treasures of Indian antiquity, and knew that that antiquity has its great lessons for us moderns; further, that the history of the languages of India, as it has indeed already modified, is also yet to modify, and that profoundly, the whole teaching of classical and Germanic philology, both in method and in contents; and that the history of the evolution of religions in India is destined to exert a powerful intiuence for good upon the development of religious thought and life among us and our children. He labored, and other men shall enter into his labors. But it is this "faith, the assurance of things hoped for,"—πίστις ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις,—which is one of the most vital attributes of the true scholar.

In the autumn of 1886 came the beginning of the end, an alarming disorder of the heart. Adhering closely to a strictly prescribed physical regimen, he labored on, according to his wavering strength, heaping, as it were, the already brimming measure of his life-work. His courage, his patient learning of the art of suffering, his calm serenity in facing the ever-present possibility of sudden death,—this was heroic. And through it all forsook him not the two grand informing motives of his life,—the pure love of truth, and an allabsorbing passion for faithful service.

With this love of truth, this consuming zeal for service, with this public spirit and broad humanity, this absolute truthfulness and genuineness of character, is not this life an inspiration and an example more potent by far than years of exhortation? Is not this truly one of the lives that make for righteousness?

And what then? On the tympanum of the theatre at Harvard are inscribed in the Vulgate version those noble words from the book of Daniel:—


We may say them of him: And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever.


  1. Most notable among them is the one by Professor Seymour of Yale, in the "American Journal of Philology," vol. 15.