University of Vermont - Ariel Yearbook (Burlington, VT)

 - Class of 1896

Page 11 of 263

 

University of Vermont - Ariel Yearbook (Burlington, VT) online yearbook collection, 1896 Edition, Page 11 of 263
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University of Vermont - Ariel Yearbook (Burlington, VT) online yearbook collection, 1896 Edition, Page 10
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tude which renders him easily a peer with the highest. To us he has the peculiar charm that, while almost all scholars of our day owe large obligation to foreign birth or study inuniversities abroad, Dr. Shedd was purely an American product. ln this respect he deserves to be named alongside Jonathan Edwards. Dr. Shedd visited Europe in 1867 for a tour of five months. lt was his only experience of the old world. He had then been reading and reflecting so long that the things he was to see were distinctly dehned in his imagination. Beholding cities, castles, cathedrals, paintings, statues and antiquities, was but verifying his preconceptions. What with his indisposition to public throngs or displays, the severity of his tastes, his fondness for domestic quiet and home, and his passion for books, Europe seen at the age of forty-seven could not modify him or divert the current of his thoughts. He was thoroughly American. He drew his blood from that pure stream of Elizabethan Puritans who founded New Eng- land in the 17th century. He delineated his ideal in the essay on " The Puritan Character." He was bred in the simple habits of the forest-girt country 5 his intellectual training was acquired in a college far from the glare of the city 5 and he went to the end of his career Qto use another of his expressionsb " without changing or deranging the ground-work." Formed by the plain and austere discipline of the olden time, he was developed and expanded to his measure, we think, by that opportune professorship of English in his alma mater. Writing of English Studies in 1856, he lets fall sentences in which we may discern a prediction of which his own achievements were a fulfilment 5-" They induce a calm, grave, sincere, profound, exhaustive and commanding manner of mind " g "That must be an extremely intense and determined individuality that can keep itself out of the great main current and tendency of the age in which it lives, and, in strong contrast, exhibit a style of thinking purely suigenericf' We sat at the funeral, a dull autumnal afternoon, in the stately Church on the Avenue, where, thirty years before, we had first looked upon his thoughtful face and heard his mellow voice. We followed the becoming services, conducted by distinguished men of other colleges and attended by the well-known theological scholars of the metropolis. Notwith- standing the eminent Htness and spiritual comfort of the service, our heart could not but brood over the reflection that the great scholar de- ID

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History of Christian Doctrine. Now reappears his preference for the ancients over the men of the hour, still more Hrmly grounded on the " conviction that there were some minds in the former ages of Chris- tianity who were called by Providence to do a work that will never be outgrown and left behind by the Christian Churchf' He goes to Athanasius for theology proper, to Augustine for anthropology, and to Anselm 'for soteriology. To a mind like that of Dr. Shedd there must have been deep congeniality in the learned Alexandrian so often exiled in the West, in the Latin rhetorician converted and raised to be Bishop of Hippo, and in the Abbot of Bec exalted to the archbishopric of Canter- bury. lt would be difhcult to name three souls in the Christian era to whom he would be more likely to fasten through aflinity than Athanasius ponderingthe problem of the Trinity, Augustine sounding the dark depths of Sin, and Anselm answering the question, " Cur Deus Homo ? " Dr. Shedd lectured on Systematic Theology from 1874 till 1890, and put forth as his Magnum Opus the volumes hearing the title, " Dogmatic Theology? He became Professor emeritus and spent his last years in studious retirement revising his latest works. A volume of "Theological Essayst' had appeared in 18775 " Literary Essays " in 1878 5 "Sermons to the Spiritual Man " in 1884, and a treatise on " Eternal Punishment " in 1886. It is noticeable that when a 10th edition of his " Homiletics " was called for in 1891, he t' seized the opportunity to add an appendix in order to illustrate the rhetorical theory which pervades the work, namely, that eloquence in its essential nature is ethical, not aesthetic," re- curring to the thought that inspired the outset of his career. A third volume supplementary to the " Dogmatic Theology 4' went to the press shortly before his death. He died at his home in New York city, Nov. 17, 1894. It is not necessary to coincide with Dr. Shedd in all regards in order to admire his splendid attainrnents and masterly ability. "These are my views," he would say, and there was an end of urging. But there was in him a certain quality to fertilize other minds, a voice to awake slumbering intellect, through calm lectures or through printed books, a certain vision and expression which went to the degree of mental fasci- nation or magnetism. He had limits in one direction and another. He himself recognized the fact that non omnia posszmzzifs omizes. But in his own way he rose alongside his comrades in learning and attained an alti- 91



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parted had been the intellectual child and product of our University of Vermont, that the kindling of his mind, the shaping ot his character and the direction of his aims, had been due to the heroic faculty that taught in Burlington sixty years ago. Affecting and grateful indeed is his recognition of it in the bequest of his treasured books to the college library. Nlay they keep his memory green! Nlay they insure the old spirit within the newly rising Walls l Nlay they exert a charm upon the youth of the broad Champlain valley l From the dales and glens of the Adirondacks, from the hill-side farms and nestling villages of the Green Mountains, from the islands ot the Lake, and from the Canadian border may there come forth hosts of well-born youth to follow his lead in the paths of sturdy and independent American scholarship. I X 1 I

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