« FöregåendeFortsätt »
however irksome; and never in all that period, until his visit to Europe, absent for any length of time from his post, except when compelled by sickness. In 1835, he was elected Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature.
Mr. Reed was married, in 1834, to Elizabeth White Bronson, who, with three children, now survives him.
It had long been his wish to visit Europe, but his professional duties and other claims had always prevented it. In the spring of 1854, the Professorship of Moral Philosophy, which he had once filled as Assistant Professor, being vacant, Mr. Reed became a candidate for the chair, but was not elected. Although no personal disparagement was intended, so earnest and so reasonable was his ambition for what he considered a high academical distinction, that his disappointment was most keen and depressing. His secluded mode of life, exempt from the world's rough competitions; his modest wishes; his consciousness of services rendered and duties performed; his natural pride in the affection of his students; and, above all, his conviction that moral science, in its highest and holiest sense, as elevated by religious truth, was a department of education which he was peculiarly competent to take charge of, combined to render the disappointment very poignant. His friends and family never saw him more depressed. I certainly never saw him so deeply wounded. He asked for leave of absence, which was granted by the Trustees; and early in May, 1854, accompanied by his sister-in-law, Miss Bronson, he sailed for Europe.
No American, visiting the Old World as a private citizen, ever received a kinder or more discriminating welcome. The last months of his life were pure sunshine. Before he landed in England, his friends, the family of Dr. Arnold, whom he had only known by correspondence, came on board the ship to receive him; and his earliest and latest hours of European sojourn were passed under the roof of the great Poet whose memory he most revered, and whose writings had interwoven themselves with his intellectual and moral being. “I do not know," he said in one of his letters to his family, “what I have ever done to deserve all this kindness." And so it was throughout. In England he was at home in every sense; and scenes, which to the eye were strange, seemed familiar by association and study. His letters to America were expressions of grateful delight at what he saw and heard in the land of his forefathers, and at the respectful kindness with which he was everywhere greeted; and yet of earnest and loyal yearning to the land of his birth—his home and family and friends. It is no violation of good taste here to enumerate some of the friends for whose kind welcome Mr. Reed was so much indebted; I may mention the Wordsworths, Southeys, Coleridges, and Arnolds, Lord Mahon, Mr. Baring, Mr. Aubrey De Vere, Mr. Babbage, Mr. Henry Taylor, and Mr. Thackeraynames, one and all, associated with the highest literary or political distinction.
He visited the Continent, and went, by the ordinary route, through France and Switzerland, as far south as Milan and Venice, returning by the Tyrol to Inspruck and Munich, and thence down the Rhine to Holland. But his last
associations were with the cloisters of Canterbury, (that spot, to my eye, of matchless beauty,) the garden vales of Devonshire, the valley of the Wye, and the glades of Rydal. His latest memory of this earth was of beautiful England in her summer garb of verdure. The last words he ever wrote were in a letter of the 20th September to his venerable friend, Mrs. Wordsworth, thanking her and his English friends generally for all she and they had done for him.
The rest is soon told.
On the 20th of September, 1854, Mr. Reed, with his sister embarked at Liverpool for New York, in the United States steam-ship Arctic. Seven days afterward, at noon, on the 27th, when almost in sight of his native land, a fatal collision occurred, and before sun-down, every human being left upon the ship had sunk under the waves of the ocean. The only survivor who was personally acquainted with my brother, saw him about two o'clock p.m.; after the collision, and not very long before the ship sank, sitting, with his sister, in the small passage aft of the dining saloon. “They were tranquil and silent, though their faces wore the look of painful anxiety.” They probably afterwards left this position, and repaired to the promenade deck. For a selfish struggle for life, with a helpless companion dependent upon him, with a physical frame unsuited for such a strife, and, above all, with a sentiment of religious resignation which taught him in that hour of agony, even with the memory of his wife and children thronging in his mind, to bow his head in submission to the will of God,—for such a struggle he was wholly unsuited;
and his is the praise, that he perished with the women and children.
Nor can I conclude this brief narrative without the utterance of an opinion, expressed in no asperity, and not, I hope, improperly intruded here-my opinion, as an American citizen, that, in all the history of wanton and unnecessary shipwreck, no greater scandal to the science of navigation, or to the system of marine discipline, ever occurred than the loss of the Arctic and her three hundred passengers. There is but one thing worse, and that is the absence of all laws of the United States either to prevent the recurrence of such a catastrophe; to bring to justice those, if there are any such, who are responsible; or, at least, to secure a judicial investigation of the actual facts.
The news of Mr. Reed's death was received with deep and intense feeling in the city of his birth, his education, and active life. Philadelphia mourned sincerely for her son; and no tribute to his memory, no graceful expression or act of sympathy to his family, was withheld. For them all there are no adequate words of gratitude.
Returning with renewed health and refreshed spirits, . with a capacity not only for intellectual enjoyment, but professional usefulness, enlarged by observation of other institutions and intercourse with the wise and good of the Mother country, especially those who had made education in its highest branches the study and business of their lives, Professor Reed, we may well believe, would have resumed his American duties with new zeal and efficiency. Not that I for one moment imagine he had become in
fected with the folly of fancying that a system of foreign University education, in any of its forms, could or ought to be transplanted here; but, I have no doubt, that observation of thorough training and accurate scholarship, the combination of moral and intellectual discipline such as is seen abroad, and especially in Great Britain, would have raised still higher in his mind the aims at which American students and American institutions of learning should be directed.
By his early death—for he was but forty-six years of age -all these hopes were doomed to disappointment. The most that can now be done is to give to the world these fragmentary memorials of his studious life; and for them I beg an indulgent and candid criticism.
WILLIAM B. REED.
PHILADELPHIA, February 1st, 1855.