IN 1876 Cecil Bancroft reported to the Trustees, "It is a question, not of the life or death of the school, but of its being of a first- or of a second-class grade." And well he might make such a statement. While he was beginning to make progress in curricular reform and in building a strong Faculty, material considerations were a heavy burden. The debt on the Main Academy building remained unpaid; even the interest on that debt could not be met, with the result that it increased each year. The school budget was not balanced, which led to deficit financing. Enrollment had been falling off, and the reputation of Phillips Academy was low in comparison with that of its competitors. Clearly some dramatic move was essential to reverse these trends and to restore the School to the position it had once enjoyed. Fortunately for Dr. Bancroft, Phillips Academy would be one hundred years old in 1878. Here was a heaven-sent opportunity to strengthen the institution, and the Principal was determined to make the most of it. Dr. Bancroft had been in Andover less than one year when he began to think about the School's coming centennial in 1878. He wanted to call attention to Phillips Academy's proud record in education, to rally the alumni in support of the institution, to conduct a drive to increase the endowment, and generally to start Andover on its second century with renewed vitality. As early as June 1874 the Trustees voted to refer the Centennial and what to do about it to the President of the Board and the Principal. The following year a committee of the Trustees was appointed for the same purpose, with power to enlist the support of a committee of the alumni and with the recommendation that they invite the aid of Professor John Lord Taylor, then President of the Faculty of the Theological Seminary and the author of the biography of Samuel Phillips.(1) Placing Professor Taylor on the Centennial team provided an unexpected dividend when, the following year, he presented the School with one hundred dollars to establish "the Taylor Centennial Fund," with the provision that the money was to be invested for the next one hundred years or until it had increased one-thousand fold, at which time the Trustees could use it "according to their best wisdom" for the benefit of "Your Grand Old School."(2) In the meantime the Trustees got a taste of what the Centennial celebration might involve when they voted one hundred dollars to hire a tent for the Semi-Centennial of the Philomathean Society in 1875.(3) What might be called a curtain-raiser for the School's festivities to come took place on Memorial Day 1876 as part of the National Centennial of that year, when a Centennial tree was planted with appropriate ceremonies. After introductory remarks by Dr. Bancroft, there followed a poem, an oration, and an ode, the latter apparently sung by those present, all three efforts the productions of members of the Senior Class. The ceremonies were then appropriately closed with a prayer by the venerable Edwards A. Park, Professor at the Theological Seminary.(4)
Thus far, plans for the Centennial had consisted mainly of talk. In 1877 the pace was stepped up. At their June meeting the Trustee committee reported that they had engaged speakers for the Centennial celebration, including Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes as poet. The Board then proceeded to appoint a Central Committee consisting of the Reverend Edward G. Porter of Lexington, the Reverend Francis H. Johnson of Andover, and Dr. Bancroft. The Reverend Porter was an old hand at Centennials, having been in charge of the celebration in the town of Lexington in 1875, but the records indicate that Dr. Bancroft did the lion's share of the work. Bancroft, who had a highly developed sense of town-gown relations, urged the Trustees to include the Town of Andover in the celebration. Accordingly, at their December meeting in Boston the Board voted "That the Trustees respectfully invite the Town of Andover to participate in the celebration of the Centennial of the Academy."(5) The response to this invitation was one of the most remarkable features of the Centennial. At the annual town meeting on 4 March 1878, Article 17 in the warrant read: "To see what action the town will take on the following communication from C. F. P. Bancroft, Clerk of the Trustees of Phillips Academy"---namely, the invitation. It was voted "that the town gratefully accept the invitation tendered and that a Committee of three be nominated by the chair to retire and report a Committee to represent the town and cooperate with the Committee of the Trustees of Phillips Academy in their arrangements for the proposed Centennial Celebration." After due deliberation, the Committee of Three reported back to the meeting with nominees for the larger committee, which included the selectmen, the town clerk, the trustees of the Punchard Free School, the school committee, the trustees of the Memorial Hall Library, and eleven citizens at large.(6) Nor did the town stop there. When the committee met to organize on 13 April 1878, it soon became clear that, as the chronicler of the Centennial put it, the members "construed the word 'participate' to mean the rendering of efficient and material aid." The Honorable Marcus Morton, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, was elected chairman, E. Kendall Jenkins, the town clerk, secretary; and fifteen subcommittees were appointed to deal with such matters as Reception and Entertainment, Tents and Tables, Press and Advertisement, Police, Decorations, Procession, Railway Accommodations, Carriages, Dinner, and Music. The finance committee embarked on a drive to raise twenty-five hundred dollars, which, it was hoped, would be sufficient to cover all the expenses of the celebration, and had succeeded in collecting something over two thousand by the time the festivities began in June. Two hundred and forty-two donors contributed to this fund in amounts ranging from ten cents to one hundred dollars.(7) Certainly the response of the town to the Academy's invitation to "participate" must have been heart-warming for Cecil Bancroft and his fellow-workers.
In the meantime, things began to move forward on the Hill. On March 1878 a Centennial Fund Concert was held in the Academy Hall, featuring the Phillips Academy Glee Club singing college favorites, Miss E. D. Goodridge playing Schubert and Mendelssohn on the piano, Miss L. F. Kimball singing "Queen of the Night" and "Waiting," Mr. E. Wallner on the violin, and Mr. F. Allen blowing "Farewell from the Mountain" and "Long, Long Ago" on the trombone. Tickets were thirty-five cents but there is no record in the accounts of the Treasurer as to how much money was raised.(8) On 21 April 1878 the hundredth anniversary of the signing of the Phillips Academy Constitution, Mrs. Bancroft electrified the community by giving birth to her fourth child, a son. The undergraduates were so taken with this coincidence that they petitioned Dr. Bancroft to name the boy "Phillips," which he proceeded to do.(9) Attempts were also made to publicize the coming Centennial in the press. The previous fall a very solid article on Phillips Academy and other "classical" schools had appeared in Harper's,(10) and early in 1878 the Boston Daily Advertiser published three articles on the School, its future, and the Phillips family. A similar account appeared in The Congregationalist early in May.(11) Although interest in the Centennial would be limited primarily to members of the Andover family, at least some of the general public would be made aware of the School and its record.
Yet it was to its own alumni that Phillips Academy must turn if it was to achieve the aims of the Centennial. Early in 1878 the Central Trustee Committee sent a circular to leading graduates inviting them to become members of a Committee of Fifty to work for the success of the Centennial. According to this circular, the aims of the Centennial were to collect records of the Academy's past, enlarge its library, add to its collection of portraits, publish a catalogue of officers and students for the entire century, increase funds and equipment, and hold "a large home gathering" of alumni at Andover on June 5 and 6. Each member of the Committee of Fifty, chosen so as to provide for wide age and geographical representation, was to be responsible for developing interest in the program in his area and in his age group.(12) The Committee finally met in Boston on May 1878, with the Honorable George O. Shattuck, the chairman and John C. Phillips, secretary. This Committee appointed a series of subcommittees, many of them paralleling those of the Town of Andover, to deal with specific subjects. Of particular importance for the future of the School were two: one on Endowments and Scholarships, under the chairmanship of Alpheus H. Hardy, a Trustee, and another on Alumni Association under W. A. Mowry of Providence.(13) The Committee on Endowments and Scholarships must have moved very rapidly, for well before the celebration they had prepared and distributed a statement on the School's financial difficulties. After calling attention to the debt on the Academy Building of $29,700, the committee went on to point out that the entire resources of the School amounted to $111,532, and $59,312 of that amount was earmarked for special purposes, leaving a mere $52,220 for general expenses. In 1877 the income on the unrestricted funds totaled $3,154, which, when added to the income from tuition, gave the School $12,734 for general operating expenses. Salaries alone amounted to $10,630, which left $2,104 for all other purposes. The committee was careful to point out that Phillips Academy should not be confused with the Andover Theological Seminary, which was relatively strong financially, even though the two institutions were under the same Board of Trustees. Finally, the committee listed the Academy's needs: to pay off the outstanding debt, to provide for salaries adequate to attract and hold good teachers, to cover the additional expenses attendant upon the establishment of a fourth year and new departments, and to maintain the policy, initiated by the founders, of never turning away a deserving boy because he could not pay the School's charges. For these high-minded purposes the committee asked the alumni to raise $100,000.(14)
Next came the problem of invitations. Certainly all the alumni received them, for a printed invitation dated 13 May 1878 went out from the Central Committee to all "Sons of Phillips," presumably accompanied by the statement of the Committee on Endowments and Scholarship. For special guests an engraved invitation was prepared over the signature of Professor John Wesley Churchill, who was to preside at the Centennial dinner, and who, with the exception of Dr. Bancroft, worked harder for the celebration than anyone else. Professor Churchill and his Invitation Committee shot high when it came to special guests. They invited the President of the United States and Mrs. Rutherford B. Hayes; the Governor, Chief Justice, and other leaders of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; the Mayor of Boston; the Presidents of all New England colleges and some outside New England; the Principals of all the leading New England preparatory schools; the Trustees and Faculty of the Phillips Exeter Academy; the United States Commissioner of Education and the Japanese and Chinese Commissioners of Education; the Superintendent of the Boston School System; past donors to Phillips Academy and the Andover Theological Seminary; and finally all the members of the Phillips family whom they could locate.(15) In addition, Professor Churchill asked a substantial number of them to make ten-minute speeches after the dinner on themes that he would present in the form of toasts, and he asked them for suggestions. It is testimony to the flexibility of the orators of the day that most of those approached said they would talk on anything Churchill wanted them to. For example, President Charles W. Eliot of Harvard wrote, 'If he [the presiding officer] can conveniently send me a day or two beforehand my text, I will govern myself accordingly." And Eliot went on to say that he had no amour propre about precedence, simply because Harvard was the oldest institution, and that since the poet and orator of the day were both Harvard men, he thought other colleges ought to have the "chief seats" at the dinner. When Churchill suggested the theme of "stability and progress" in education, Eliot wrote back that that was "perfectly agreeable" to him, and added, with a possible swipe at Andover's close associations with Yale in the past, "It seems to me that Harvard contributes its fair share to this celebration."(16) Gustavus V. Fox, who had spent two years at Andover in the late 1830's and had been Assistant Secretary of the Navy in Lincoln's cabinet, wrote, "Sailors very often cause anxiety to their friends when called upon to speak in public but never for want of brevity."(17) Trustee Alpheus Hardy agreed to make a financial report, but as for speaking, he wrote, "my tongue is coated with silence."(18) Though there is no record of any reply from President Hayes,(19) the response to Professor Churchill's invitations was generally heart-warming, and it soon became clear that the gathering in June would be a very distinguished assemblage indeed.
As far as the material preparations for the Centennial are concerned, the record is silent, but the amount of work that went into them must have been prodigious. There were buildings to be decorated, caterers to be hired, transportation to be provided, lodgings to be arranged, undergraduates to be drilled, programs to be printed, tents to be rented, musicians to be engaged, processions to be organized, and order to be brought out of potential chaos. As the event proved, all these things were successfully accomplished. At last the great day came, and it was clear that both School and town had done themselves proud. A reporter for the Boston Daily Advertiser described the scene as follows:
Andover is beautiful now. Every tree is rich with green leaves; nature is luxuriant; the streets are lined with flags and streamers on both sides; houses are decorated; red, white and blue drapery is twined about the columns and ornaments the porticoes. In some houses every window has its flag. Great exertions have been made by the people to make the town appear worthy of the occasion, and they have succeeded admirably. Abbott [sic] Academy honored the day of its sister institution by decorations, and in the evening the trees were light with Chinese lanterns. Historical spots were conspicuously noted. Where the first academy stood was erected a sign reading "The Old Joiner's Shop. First Academy Building stood here in 1778." Upon the porticoes of the house standing in the same yard [Farrar House] was fastened a picture of Judge Phillips, the founder of the academy, draped with the national colors. Farther up the hill, on the other side, was another conspicuous sign: "Site of the Second Academy Building. Built 1786; Burned 1818," and on the street corner below was a third, which read: "Site of the Old Stone Academy. Built 1832. Burnt in 1864." The Mansion house on the hill bore a device, "Phillips Mansion, built 1782." The town hall, the railroad station and other prominent places were ornamented, some of them very gaily with streamers and inscriptions of welcome. The academy building itself was richly adorned with flags, festoons, and streamers of red, white and blue down its whole front. Altogether, the town was wonderfully brilliant and attractive.(20)
The Boston and Maine Railroad decided to take advantage of the great day to do a little promotion of its own. As the Lawrence American described it, "The Boston & Maine depot was finely decorated by Supt. Richardson, with flags, bunting and shields; immediately over the ticket office was the motto: 'Welcome to the 100th Anniversary of the School of our Fathers,' and another motto read: 'Boston & Main R.R., now the connecting link between the east and west; originated in Andover in 1833.' "(21) Across from the Mansion House, in the area where the Memorial Tower is now located, two large tents had been set up-one, accommodating thirty-five hundred, for the exercises on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, the other accommodating fifteen hundred, for the dinner on Thursday. Finally, the weather was, by all accounts, gorgeous. When James Russell Lowell wrote, "What is so rare as a day in June! Then if ever come perfect days", he might well have been describing these two days on Andover Hill in 1878. It is hard to see how all those who had worked so faithfully could have provided a more fitting setting for the ceremonies to come, and the beautiful weather seemed to indicate that the Good Lord himself was smiling on their endeavors.
The Phillips Academy Centennial took place in the last years of what might be called the Age of Oratory in American life. When people wanted to celebrate something, they invited speakers to come to talk to them. And the speeches were expected to be exhaustive, if not exhausting. An orator who was worth his salt would never be satisfied with some half-hour statement; he was expected, literally, to go on for hours. Daniel Webster had set the fashion for this kind of oratory---some of his Congressional speeches actually lasted several days. Another leading orator was Edward Everett, who spoke for two hours at the dedication of the Gettysburg cemetery, at which Abraham Lincoln spoke but a few minutes. Those in charge of the Centennial clearly saw no reason to depart from the established practice. To be sure, there were a few musical interludes; to be sure, different kinds of people gave different kinds of speeches: but the fact remains that those who attended the exercises from start to finish would have listened to fifteen hours of speeches of one kind or another.(22)
The honor of opening the exercises was given to the Phillips Academy undergraduates; indeed, this was almost the only formal part they had in the two-day proceedings. At 3:00 p.m. what is described as a "great audience," "composed largely of graduates of the school and personal friends of the speakers," assembled in the Academy Hall on the top floor of the main Academy Building.(23) The occasion was the twelfth annual competition for the Warren F. Draper prizes in declamation, established by Mr. Draper, proprietor of the Andover Press, to improve the quality of public speaking by professional men. In this contest the students recited not compositions of their own but selections from the writings of famous authors, which they had memorized. The Centennial competition featured such selections as Wendell Phillips' "John Brown at Harper's Ferry," Carl Schurz's "Sumner's Battle-Flag Resolution," John Ruskin's "The Right Use of Wealth," and John Anthony Froude's "Luther at the Diet of Worms."(24)
The boys, all of whom had been drilled by Professor John Wesley Churchill, apparently performed magnificently. One reporter wrote, "The speaking was of unusual excellence, and would compare, much to the credit of the Andover students, with the rhetorical exhibitions in the colleges ."(25) Just before the announcement of the judge's decisions, Principal Bancroft rose to announce that he had been given a check by Mr. Draper to endow the prizes in perpetuity, the first of many windfalls that the Centennial would bring. The Right Reverend Thomas M. Clark, D.D., LL.D., Bishop of Rhode Island, then announced the winners, but, as is customary with judges, he had to make a speech first. He complimented the contestants on the excellence of their performances, stressed the difficulty the judges had had in reaching their decisions, and suggested to the students that "when Phillips celebrated her next centennial, their faces might adorn her walls, their writings find a place in her library, and their voices be echoed by the phonograph through their halls."(26) He then announced that the first prize had been awarded to Burton M. Firman of Andover for his recitation of George William Curtis's "Fanaticism", second prize to Roland B. Whitridge of Boston for "The Pilot's Story" by William Dean Howells, and third prize to Francis Johnson Phelps of Andover for Wendell Phillips' "Toussaint L'Ouverture." The local boys certainly made good.
After the ovations came the presentation to the School of seven portraits: three were of former Principals---Pemberton, Johnson, and Tilton; one of James Eaton, late head of the School's English Department; one of Lieutenant S. H. Thompson, the fiancé of Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, who had been killed at Antietam; and two of alumni, Samuel Williston of the Class of 1815 and Horatio Hackett of the Class of 1826. Each presentation was accompanied by a speech, some of them quite lengthy.(27)
After the presentation of the portraits occurred a charming interlude that came as a surprise to the audience, since there was no mention of it in the program. Professor John Wesley Churchill mounted the platform and asked Dr. Bancroft if he (Churchill) and Edward G. Coy, Professor of Greek, might conduct a brief exercise. After gaining the good Doctor's permission, Professor Churchill then proceeded, "on behalf of the teachers and pupils of our sister institution, Abbot Academy," to present to the School a handsome banner with the accompanying sentiment: "To 'Phillips.' A birthday greeting with proud congratulations from 'Abbot.' May the coming centuries of the academy, and the years of its members, show how grand an ending hangs upon that true beginning,---Non sibi." "The banner," writes the chronicler of the Centennial, "which is of silk, finished with gold fringe and tassels, hangs from a staff tipped with a small gilt eagle. The face, which is white, bordered with light blue, displays in colors the device of the Phillips Academy seal with its mottoes; the reverse is scarlet, and shows in gold letters the inscription: 'ABBOT ACADEMY TO PHILLIPS ACADEMY. 1778-1878.' Professor Coy then accepted the gift on behalf of the Faculty and Students and pledged to the ladies of Abbot "the honor of ideal knighthood,---a brave and generous loyalty." The undergraduates present then showed their appreciation of the gift by giving one of their favorite cheers: "P-h-i-l-l-i-p-s, rah, rah, rah" (repeated three times).(28)
At the conclusion of the Wednesday afternoon exercises the assemblage adjourned for supper. One wonders where they all ate. The School would give all the guests dinner the following day but had made no provision for a meal on Wednesday night. Some of the more illustrious presumably were guests at the homes of the administration and faculty; others presumably ate at the Mansion House, then a public inn; still others may have dined with hosts in the town. In any event the guests did not have much time to pleasure themselves with food, for at 7:30 that evening "a still larger audience than that of the afternoon" assembled in the greater of the two tents. The chronicler of the Centennial describes the event:
The scene and its surroundings was one not easily forgotten. Outside the great tent Chinese lanterns were hung from the boughs of all the trees, while the interior was pleasantly illuminated by lamps and locomotive headlights. But high above these the great moon rolled in its splendor, and flooded everything with its mellow light. Pouring through the leaves of the overhanging elms, it penetrated the canvas walls, leaving them frescoed with masses of swaying foliage, and establishing an unexpected harmony between their otherwise bald expanse and the palms that graced the speakers desk. Later in the evening the wind arose, and the sound of waving branches was mingled with the voice of the orator, while the canvas ceiling waved in great undulations overhead. It was not hard to be convinced that the old elms, and even the winds, were taking part in the general gladness. To quote the words of another, 'It seemed like a coronation, as indeed it was, of grand old memories of noble men, who, being dead, yet speak.'(29)
When it is added that the interior of the tent was decorated with "bunting, streamers, and flags of different nations," it is easy to see why the occasion could be described as "a brilliant spectacle."(30)
Promptly at seven-thirty the evening exercises began, with some numbers from the Lawrence, Massachusetts, Madrigal Club, S. A. Ellis, Conductor. There followed a prayer by the Reverend Ray Palmer, D.D. Dr. Palmer was to be featured twice that evening; later on the assemblage sang his hymn "My faith looks up to Thee / Thou Lamb of Calvary." It then became Principal Bancroft's turn for an address of welcome. The good Doctor delivered a warm and sentimental speech, reviewing the School's great traditions, reminding his audience of their associations with the School itself and the beautiful Andover countryside, and closing with a welcome from the Trustees, the Faculty, the students, the Town of Andover, and finally from Alma Mater "to nestle again in the old arms and feel again the throbbing of the old heart." The Reverend William Adams, D.D., LL.D., the son of Principal John Adams, responded for the Alumni. He reminisced about his days at Phillips Academy, paid tribute to the courage of the Founders, and suggested that those identified with the Kingdom of Christ were the real heroes of this country rather than wealthy men who lived lives of "self-indulgence, luxury, and ostentation." Then came the pièce de résistance of the evening---an address entitled "The Earlier Annals of Phillips Academy" by the Reverend William E. Park, the son of Professor Edwards Park of the Theological Seminary. The Reverend Park had done his homework. If the audience wanted to hear about the early history of the School, he would tell them about it, and he did just that for close to two hours. He spent most of his time on the Phillipses and the founding of the Academy and gave substantial credit to Eliphalet Pearson for determining the kind of school it would be. The paper was scholarly, solid, unrelieved by humor or light touch; it was in the best Andover tradition.(31) By the time the Reverend Park finished, it was close to ten o'clock; the audience, which had had two and one half hours of speechifying, must have looked apprehensively at the next item on the program, which read "Reminiscences by Senior Alumni." Apparently the old boys never got a chance to reminisce, for Dr. Adams, as presiding officer, firmly announced that ten o'clock was "the orthodox time for retiring on Andover Hill"(32) and the ceremonies were closed with some more madrigals, the singing of the hymn "He leadeth me! Oh, blessed thought!", written by Professor J. H. Gilmore, and a benediction by the Reverend Enoch Stanford. The evening had hardly been one of light entertainment; it was a dignified and sober occasion; but the exercises undoubtedly symbolized, for those present, the seriousness of purpose which had characterized the spirit of Phillips Academy since its founding.(33)
At the close of the Wednesday evening exercises, the hospitable citizens of the Town of Andover took over. According to the record, ninety-three families opened their homes to guests and managed to provide lodgings for 297 visitors. In addition, the Reception and Entertainment Committee added, "a large number were received and entertained by friends of which the committee could render no account."(34) One wonders if there has ever been such an outstanding example of happy town-gown relations in the annals of American education. The town's hospitality was strictly a bed-and-breakfast affair, however, for those in charge of the Centennial had scheduled the first event for eight-thirty the following morning. At that time a large number of Phillips Academy alumni met in Academy Hall to form an alumni association. At the start some spoilsport called attention to the fact that there already was an alumni organization in existence, but since it was moribund, those attending voted to merge the old with the new. A simple constitution, presented by the Honorable Robert R. Bishop, was adopted, and the Honorable George O. Shattuck of Boston was elected President. In what was apparently an effort to share the wealth, the new organization elected twenty-eight vice-presidents. Plans were made to hold biennial meetings in Boston and quinquennial meetings in Andover. By the end of the day it was reported that the new association had signed up three hundred members, and all concerned were most sanguine about its future. But it would be many years before anything like the present alumni organization would come into being.(35)
"All the morning birds sang together for joy .... The wind was northwest, worthy of Andover and of 'the day we celebrate.' To your tent again, O Phillips! It has three thousand sittings, and before noon hundreds standing in the aisles." With these words the reporter for The Congregationalist introduced his account of the exercises of Thursday morning.(36) Every Boston & Maine train that day brought additional guests, come to Andover to do Phillips honor. Promptly at nine-thirty the celebration was opened with more music from the Lawrence Madrigal Club, which earned its pay during these two days. Then followed a prayer by the Reverend Jonathan Stearns, a grandson of one of the first trustees of the Academy and a member of a family with many Andover connections. At this point Dr. William Adams, who had presided the evening before, rose to introduce the orator of the day, the Reverend Alexander McKenzie of Cambridge.
If the three thousand people who had come to Andover that morning were looking forward to hearing an oration in the best style of Webster and Everett, they certainly got their money's worth. The Reverend McKenzie spoke for one hour and a half without a note of any kind, interspersing his remarks with snatches of poetry and quotations from pertinent authors. His theme was the great story of Phillips Academy, but in the process of developing that theme he went back to the schools of the Druids in ancient Britain and retold the story of the Puritan migration to New England. Where the Reverend Park's account of the previous evening had been sober and scholarly, Reverend McKenzie's was ornate and rhetorical. It was not so much what he said as the manner of his saying it that was impressive, while with the Reverend Park the reverse was true. Midway in the course of his oratorical tour de force McKenzie was interrupted by the arrival of Governor Alexander H. Rice of Massachusetts with his staff, accompanied by the Boston Cadet Band, which played "Hail to the Chief" as His Excellency entered the building.(37) Such an interruption might have flustered a less experienced speaker, but the Reverend McKenzie never turned a hair and resumed his rhetorical flights once the Governor was seated. According to several reports,(38) one of the most impressive parts of the McKenzie oration was his calling of the roll of Phillips Academy's graduates
Call the roll. The response will come from all the land, from its towns and tents: from lands beyond the seas; from lands within the seas .... It will come from men who in the ministry of mercy heal the sick and restore the dying, who defend the common life and prolong its days .... The reply will come from the temples where justice sits with even scales, and law presides over property and industry.
Call the roll. The reply will come from among the merchants of the world, whose enterprise sustains society, whose ships penetrate to all climes, whose roads bind continents .... It will come from the council hall of the nation, and the village; from the school and college, and every seat of high learning; from the scholar's study and the poet's retreat .... from the broad fields where they are gathering the great harvests that they may give us bread and feed the world; from the soldier's camp and ship, where arms protect peace, and liberty rests serene and secure in the guardianship of the patriot's sword.
Call the roll of the sons of Phillips, and from all places where good men are found, thousands of voices shall make reply, "Here;" and from the realms above us, where they rest from their labors, and their works do follow them, shall come the voice clear as the victor's trumpet, "Here"---"O mother dear! your wisdom taught us, your prudence defended us, your spirit inspired us, your courage ennobled us, and we are doing what you gave us will and might to do." Mother and sons, with the ancestral piety, standing between the centuries, in one glad voice shall raise the sons of the fathers, Non nobis, Domine.
The Centennial orator concluded his address with a stirring defense of the importance of a good religious education---an education that could be given at schools like Phillips Academy but that could not, under the United States Constitution, be given in the public schools. Nor did he forget to put in a plug for the Centennial Fund Drive. All in all it was a masterful performance. The peroration went as follows:
Let the call upon us be loud, bold, unceasing. We are ready. Phillips is a hundred years old, yet stands erect, fronting another century, and answering the summons with a bold Ha, Ha! With free men freely furnished for their work, a free spirit in a free school, the centuries may ask what they will.
The grass withers. The tree falls. It is the word that remains. Learning will treasure and employ the trust we commit to her. The great forces whose seat is here, whose sphere is in the hearts and lives of men, will never lose their might or lack their opportunity. Men go. Institutions remain ....
Boys will come in unbroken procession and kneel before Samuel Phillips. Out of the olden time, in the vigor of today, living hands shall be laid upon their heads, and this prayer shall crown them: "The angel which redeemed me bless the lads; and let my name be named upon them, and the name of my fathers."
"How sweet a thing it is to wear a crown,
Within whose circuit is Elysium,
And all that poets feign of bliss and joy."
How grand a thing it is to wear a crown within whose circuit is that which seers have seen and sung; which patriots have longed for; which wise men have wished for; which holy men have prayed for; which good men have found and proved, and have bequeathed and shall bequeath! The crown of a true knowing, wherein man towers above himself, and is in league with the unseen and eternal! It is the knowledge of the sailor, who looks up and down, and marks his path across the trackless main. It is the knowledge of the scholar, who makes all times his servitors, and all men, and forces the universe to yield up its secret wealth. It is the knowledge of the man who finds the invisible, secures the immortal, and commits his life to the changeless Providence and the everlasting Redemption. The knowledge which enshrines itself in duty and affection; which in a true childhood waits to be taught and to be used; and in a real allegiance follows Him whose banner over us is love; of which He said who knew all things, and for whom all things are: 'This is eternal life.'(39)
Another round of madrigals and then Dr. Adams rose to introduce the Poet of the Day, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes. By chance Adams had been present at the Academy Exhibition of 1825, when young Holmes, a member of the Senior Class, had read a poem. "Well do I remember his ruddy countenance, his plaited frill, his attractive manners, and the wave of surprise and delight which passed over the audience as with lips already 'wet with Castilian dews' he charmed them by all the recital of his verse." Now, fifty-three years later, the poet was again to recite to an Andover audience.(40)
More than just an occasional poet, to judge by his complete works, Oliver Wendell Holmes did, however, rise, personally and poetically, to many and disparate occasions. He soberly turned out a "Song for a Temperance Dinner to which Ladies were Invited;" he became grave at "The Dedication of the Pittsfield Cemetery, September 9, 1850;" and he cleaned his pen "For the Meeting of the National Sanitary Association."
A loyal Harvard alumnus, the good doctor wrote much crimson verse: "A Song for the Centennial Celebration of Harvard College, 1836," "Hymn for the Celebration at the Laying of the Corner-Stone of Harvard Memorial Hall, Cambridge, October 6, 1870," "Hymn for the Dedication of Memorial Hall, at Cambridge, June 23, 1874," and two sonnets "Harvard."
Is it any wonder, then, that the centennial celebration of Phillips Academy brought forth the person and the poetry of Dr. Holmes? At the age of sixty-nine, Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, in strict iambic pentameter, three hundred and fifty-four lines of rhyming couplets entitled "The School Boy." And that, poetically, was another occasion.
The day was bright and sunny, with Nature in tune with Man, as Holmes surveyed alma mater:
What need of idle fancy to adorn
Our mother's birthplace on her birthday morn?
Hers are the blossoms of eternal spring,
From these green boughs her new-fledged birds take wing,
These echoes hear their earliest carols sung,
In this old nest the brood is ever young.
The reminiscences that follow are intensely personal, and somewhat nostalgic:
When first I sought the academic town.
My cheek was bare of adolescent down
And yet, the vision is clear, not clouded with the mist of fifty years:
The morning came; I reached the classic hall;
A clock-face eyed me, staring from the wall;
Beneath its hands a printed line I read:
YOUTH IS LIFE'S SEED-TIME: so the clock face said.
Students, the class-room, masters, all are recalled with clarity and wit:
Uneasy lie the heads of all that rule
His most of all whose kingdom is a school.
A favorite master, nameless but immortalized, comes to life in the mantle of non sibi:
His was the charm magnetic, the bright look
That sheds its sunshine on the dreariest book;
A loving soul to every task he brought
That sweetly mingled with the lore he taught;
Sprung from a saintly race that never could
From youth to age be anything but good,
His few brief years in holiest labors spent,
Earth lost too soon the treasure that heaven had lent.(41)
Holmes then turns to ubi sunt, and with an echo of François Villon, he asks
Where now that time remote, its griefs, its joys,
Where are its gray-haired men, its bright-haired boys?
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Still in the waters of the dark Shawshine
Do the young bathers splash and think they're clean?
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Are there still truant feet that stray beyond
These circling bounds to Pomp's or Haggett's Pond?
The only figure from Andover's past who is specifically named is Eliphalet Pearson, who made such a strong impression upon Holmes that fifty some years later, he could recall "the great Eliphalet,"
(I can see him now;
Big name, big frame, big voice, and beetling brow).
As he surveys the passing of the years, the many changes which have taken place since he was, himself, a school boy, Dr. Holmes remarks how easily one adjusts to change. The train, anesthesia, the archeological discoveries of Schliemann, astronomical advances, all these delight the mind. He pauses, though, in his admiration of "that wicked phonograph! hark! how it swears! / Turn it again and make it say its prayers!"
After apologising, surely with his tongue in cheek, that "too light my strain" has been for the distinguished company,(42) Holmes ends "The School Boy" with a mighty paean to Phillips Academy:
Darker and deeper though the shadows fall
From the gray towers on Doubting Castle's wall,
Though Pope and Pagan re-array their hosts,
And her new armor youthful Science boasts,
Truth, for whose altar rose this holy shrine,
Shall fly for refuge to these bowers of thine.
Oliver Wendell Holmes at Andover, on that day in 1878, was certainly not the poet that Matthew Arnold was in Rugby chapel. "The School Boy" is a highly parochial poem, as indeed befits the occasion for which it was written. It is also intensely personal, filled not only with recurring portraits of the author, but also with esoteric references and jokes. Accustomed as we are, perhaps, to the sometimes wicked wit of Dr. Holmes, "The School Boy" falls somewhat drily upon the ear, especially in the last sections. Schools change with time, perhaps more quickly now than in the nineteenth century; yet one feels, in reading "The School Boy," that an elderly Dr. Holmes is reviving an Andover no longer vital in 1878. Indeed, Holmes, perhaps unwittingly, gives us a telling self-portrait:
If some tired wanderer, resting from his flight,
Amid the gay young choristers alight,
These gather round him, mark his faded plumes
That faintly still the far-off grove perfumes,
And listen, wondering if some feeble note
Yet lingers, quavering in his weary throat.(43)
At the close of the morning exercises at twelve-thirty, the Centennial guests formed into a procession under the direction of General William Cogswell. First came the Boston Cadet Band, then the Academy undergraduates, then the Trustees, then Governor Rice with his staff, and finally the alumni and special guests, arranged in order of seniority. The procession marched down Main Street to the Academy Building, crossed to the Elm Arch, and marched down that to the dinner tent that had been erected next to the great tent where the morning exercises had taken place. At various points along the way the undergraduates stopped to cheer. The parade was an impressively long one; the head of it had disappeared over the brow of the hill before the rear got started. One striking sight during the procession was President Charles W. Eliot of Harvard and President Noah Porter of Yale walking arm in arm.(44) In the meantime the caterer, A. W. Tufts of Boston, had been busy preparing the banquet. Unfortunately, there is no record of the menu, but there was general agreement that the repast was excellent, one observer remarking particularly on the virtues of the dessert. Just before the guests entered, Tufts or his deputy explained to the waiters their duties, and added, "If you don't do just as I tell you, I won't hire one of you again at the next Centennial."(45) Approximately fifteen hundred people sat down to dinner that day. The guests had been given badges of different colors to determine where they should sit.(46) The special guests sat on a platform at one side, the alumni in the center, and at the two ends the ladies and undergraduates. Again the citizens of the Town of Andover had an opportunity to show real hospitality. Apparently there were more visitors that had tickets to the dinner than there were places; to remedy this situation a substantial number of "townies" graciously gave up their tickets---and their dinners---so that the guests might be seated. Throughout the meal the Boston Cadet Band played appropriate music, while at intervals throughout the afternoon a chorus of male voices under the direction of B. J. Lang favored the assemblage with a variety of numbers, "A Soldier's Farewell" and Mendelssohn's "Rhine-Wine Song" being especially well received.(47) This banquet and the speeches that followed were the climax to the celebration. When Dr. Bancroft looked around him at the distinguished men who were in attendance, he must have felt proud for the School.
By two-thirty the dinner was over and what the Boston Daily Advertiser called "the treat of intangible things" began,---and continued for over four hours. There were twenty-nine separate speeches, some of considerable length, and several other gentlemen were called on but had been obliged to leave. Both limitations of space and the patience of the reader demand that only a few of the high spots of the afternoon be touched upon.(48) Professor John Wesley Churchill presided with his characteristic grace and skill, even though it took him two pages in the record to explain why he did not wish to take time from the other speakers. With each introduction, Churchill proposed a toast, to which the speaker responded. For example, the first toast was "The Commonwealth of Massachusetts. On the rock of popular education the infant settlement was founded; on this it has ever rested." To this Governor Rice responded with some complimentary remarks about Phillips Academy and shortly thereafter departed as he had arrived, accompanied by the Boston Cadet Band. Trustee Alpheus Hardy, who had written earlier that "his tongue would be coated with silence" that afternoon, managed a most encouraging report on the fund drive. He announced that $50,000 of the desired $100,000 had already been subscribed, $25,000 being given by John C. Phillips. At this point the Reverend E. G. Porter rose and led the audience in three cheers for Mr. Phillips. Mr. Hardy then suggested that it would be "splendid" if the remaining $50,000 were subscribed before the afternoon was out, but this dream failed to materialize. After Phillips Brooks, the great preacher, had spoken as the representative of the Phillips family, there occurred a rather bizarre interlude. General Henry K. Oliver---he had made some unscheduled remarks at the portrait presentation the day before---read what he called a Carmen Macaronicum, or burlesque poem, described by one reporter present as "a curious metrical compound of Latin and English, with a few Greek words thrown in for spice." The opening line will be more than sufficient to illustrate what the old General was up to: "Fer, Dave, mihi, pens et inkum." To make sure that the audience would not miss a single joke, the General had had his chef-d'oeuvre printed up beforehand and distributed to the audience. The evidence is not clear as to what extent the General had his audience in the aisles, but the reaction of the reporters present was restrained, to say the least.(49) After the General had finished, Professor Churchill asked the Boston Cadet Band to play "Federal Street", the words to which General Oliver had written as a young man. This the band did "in a beautiful and effective manner."
Then President Charles W. Eliot of Harvard rose to respond to the toast "Harvard University .... the union of stability and progress." Eliot was at this time well along in his reform of the Harvard curriculum through the introduction of the elective system, and his performance at the Centennial made it clear why he was destined to be a great college president. He accepted the theme of "stability and progress" and illustrated it by remarking: "We see with regret that the elms which our ancestors planted in the college yard are getting feeble, and that our grandchildren will hardly walk under their lofty arches; but we set out young oaks, rock maples, and beeches, that our descendants may nevertheless enjoy a pleasant shade." Commenting on the Phillips family he said:
What a curious mixture of conservatism and radicalism the Phillips family in the generations which founded this academy exhibited! Strenuous sticklers for social rank, yet making powder with which to fight his sacred majesty the king; evidently believing in the sufficiency through all generations of their own theology and political creeds, yet fostering learning and education, two forces which inevitably incline the children to push beyond the landmarks of the fathers.
Eliot was not happy about the democratic trend in American education:
I trust that an habitual regard for masses and majorities is not going to render Americans less mindful of the value of noble family stocks, or of the immeasurable influence which individuals of extraordinary worth are capable of exerting. Republican institutions, with their great new merits, must not fail to secure also those proved advantage of aristocratic institutions, which are sure, because founded upon natural law.
Eliot was glad that Phillips Academy charged tuition fees and thought that free tuition above the elementary grade was "of very doubtful advantage to the morals of the community. Some people seem to think it more democratic to get a benefit without paying for it; but, if self-government means self-respect and self-reliance, democratic practice should reject gratuities, especially from government."
He supported the Academy's attempt to exert "a positive moral and religious influence" on its pupils and stated that he had no interest in separating adolescents from their families for a purely secular education. "Does this mean denominational schools?," he asked, and then answered his own question: "It does." He went on:
I have no peculiar interest in the denomination to which the founders of this academy sought to attach it forever, except that, like all lovers of freedom, I am grateful to it for its strenuous maintenance of the right of private judgment, for its resistance to every form of ecclesiasticism and priestcraft, and for all the gallant service it has rendered to the cause of civil, as well as religious, liberty. Before this audience frankness requires me to say further, that there is probably not one of the distinctive tenets of orthodox Congregationalists, not one of the doctrines which characterize them as a sect, which I should personally accept. None the less I do rejoice that the hundreds of boys who gather here ... come under the influence of a vigorous branch of the Christian church, and receive instruction in their duties and responsibilities which is given with all the weight of sincere conviction and consistent example.
And President Eliot closed by predicting a strong second century for Phillips Academy, as more and more people turned to educational institutions of proved excellence and long-established traditions. Unlike most of the speeches that afternoon, Eliot's was not one of fulsome praise for the school or sentimental reminiscence about the past. It is extremely unlikely that the faculty of the Theological Seminary could have liked what he said. But he certainly gave his audience something to chew on.
If Eliot represented the new in American education, the next speaker, the venerable Professor Edwards A. Park, represented the old. He spoke for the Andover Theological Seminary and devoted himself to a long tribute to Eliphalet Pearson. Before launching on this main theme, however, he had some fun with the religious differences that existed at the time of the Seminary's founding:
The first of these classes consisted of men who were Calvinists; the second, of men who were Calvinistic; the third, of men who were Calvinistical; and the fourth, of men who were Calvinisticalish. The second of these parties, i.e. the Calvinistic, was subdivided into two: the "Semi-Calvinists," whose heads were inclined toward Calvinism, and their hearts toward Arminianism; and the "Semi-Arminians", whose heads were turned toward Arminianism, and their feelings lingered around Calvinism.
And then Professor Park, like his son the evening before, embarked on a long, scholarly tribute to the great Eliphalet.(50)
On and on the speeches went. Josiah Quincy, Jr., told an amusing story of the time he had accompanied Lafayette on his visit to Andover. Before they arrived, Lafayette had pumped Quincy about the Theological Seminary, so that when the party arrived, the Frenchman could talk very knowledgeably about the institution. Later in the day Quincy returned to Andover to visit one of his old teachers. The master had been tremendously impressed with Lafayette:
I was aware that our institution occupied a distinguished place in the religious world, but was unprepared to find that a man who had spent his life in courts and camps, and had gone through the horrors of the French Revolution, should have known so much about our school of the prophets.
I did not dare enlighten him on the subject, remembering that he always considered the tendency that boys had to prompt one another, as proof of total depravity .... and left him with a vague impression, which I doubt not he retained to his dying day, that in the salons of Paris, and among the officers in the French army, there was no subject more generally discussed than the orthodoxy of the institution at Andover.
There were still more speeches as the afternoon wore on,---President Noah Porter of Yale, Gustavus V. Fox of the Navy, a memorial poem for Andover men killed in the Civil War, composed for the occasion by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Professor A. C. Perkins, the Principal of Exeter, President S. C. Bartlett of Dartmouth, Horace Fairbanks, Governor of Vermont, and an assortment of clergymen. For some inexplicable reason the three main speakers of the Centennial---Annalist Park, Orator McKenzie, and Poet Holmes---were all called on again. Dr. Holmes announced that he would read the translation from Virgil that he had recited at his own graduation in 1825. At this Professor Churchill, who was always fast on his feet, "announced in a stentorian voice, after the manner of a pedagogue, 'Expectatur poema ab Olivero Wendell Holmes.' " Way down on the list came Frederic W. Tilton, Dr. Bancroft's predecessor as Principal, and new Headmaster of the Rogers High School in Newport, Rhode Island. He was almost the only person during that long afternoon who mentioned actual teaching in a classroom. And he had a good story to tell to illustrate his point. He was, he said, trying to explain to a Phillips boy the axiom that two things equal to the same thing are equal to each other:
I was anxious to present the matter clearly to him, and I said, 'Three and two are five; four and one are five; what then must be true of three and two, and four and one?' No response. I repeated. Still no response. I then tried a new experiment. I said, 'Here is a little boy of the same age as that little boy; and here is another little boy of the same age as that little boy; what must be true of these two little boys?' Still no response from the student. The large class of forty boys was becoming very attentive. I repeated the last question. All was still as death. After a moment, the face of the student lighted up, as he exclaimed, 'Oh! they must be twins.' All efforts to continue that recitation were useless.
Instead of dwelling on the past, Tilton then addressed himself to contemporary American problems. He pointed out that the public high schools were under attack, "not only by demagogues, but by men whose high position as teachers and scholars gives their opinion great weight." Under these circumstances the role of the privately endowed school might become even more important in the future, especially since private institutions were not prohibited from giving moral and religious training to their pupils, a training denied to the public schools under the Constitution. Tilton then touched on the problem of corruption in the country---the scandals of the Grant administration were still fresh in people's minds:
On the one side, crime in high places; corruption of the most flagrant kind in comparatively intellectual circles. Our national name disgraced by men of liberal education; families worse than widowed and orphaned by the dishonesty of a husband and father, strong enough in intellect but only too weak, morally and religiously, to resist temptation. And then, on the other side, men doing all they can to eliminate from the training given to the great body of youth in our country all that tends to develop the spiritual side of their natures.
In such a situation Phillips Academy could play a vital role, perform a national service, and Tilton foresaw "a century of great usefulness and honor. . . dawning upon her." It was a thoughtful speech, with a fresh point of view, and it must have come as a welcome contrast to the rhetorical performances of most of the other speakers that day.
And that was about it. The exercises ended at seven o'clock with a vote proposed by the Reverend E. G. Porter thanking everyone involved in making the Centennial such a success-the Town of Andover, the citizens of Andover, all the speakers, the musical groups, the Associated Press, the Boston & Maine, and "every person ... who has in any way contributed money, time, and labor of hand, tongue, or pen to the success of the Centennial Celebration of Phillips Academy." Presiding Officer Churchill spoke of cherishing the Centennial "as we cherish the blossoms of a century-plant" and finished with a prophecy:
A century hence, when every eye that has beamed today is forever closed, and every tongue that has spoken here shall be hushed in eternal stillness, may the children's children feel the influence of this day's commemorations. Esto perpetua.
The assemblage then sang a Centennial ode to the tune of "Fair Harvard," went on to the Doxology, and concluded with a benediction. That evening the alumni gathered in the Academy Hall to reminisce.
It had been a demanding two days, particularly for Dr. Bancroft. Yet after the celebration was over, he and the Trustees still had enough energy left to meet in the Mansion House for an informal session. As they reviewed the events of the past two days, they might well take pride in what had been accomplished. Of the original aims for the Centennial, most had been achieved: documents pertaining to the Academy's past had been collected, mainly by the Reverend William Park; the portrait collection had been substantially expanded; though the $100,000 aimed for in the Fund Drive had not yet been raised in full, it soon would be;(51) a new Alumni Association had been organized; the Academy's statement of principles and history had been presented, not only to he Andover family, but to the general public; and a "large home gathering'' of alumni had taken place. The general catalogue of graduates and teachers would never be published, nor is there evidence that significant additions to the library were made. But on balance, the Trustees must have been content with what had transpired. At a meeting later that month the Trustees sent a "thank-you" resolution to the Town of Andover,(52) and with that the formalities of the Centennial were over.
One cannot do better in concluding an account of the Centennial than to quote the passage that Dr. Bancroft wrote into the Trustee Records the evening after the celebration had been completed. By pure chance his statement rounded out the last page of the record book that had been begun one hundred years earlier with a copy of the Constitution of Phillips Academy. The good Doctor wrote:
Mansion House, Andover, June 6, 1878. The Trustees of Phillips Academy, informally assembled in their ancient room in the Mansion House, on this the Centennial Anniversary of the founding of the Institution, place on record their profound sense of the eminent wisdom, the clear foresight, and the large Christian benevolence of its Founders. They remember gratefully the long line of wise and godly men who have presided over the Academy in the office of Principal; and the still larger number of scholars and faithful assistants who have labored in the various departments of instruction.
They review with thankfulness and exultation the historical facts, that more than nine thousand students have enjoyed its advantages; that it is richly honored in its Alumni, among whom are many distinguished merchants, manufacturers, inventors, scientists, College Presidents and Professors, lawyers, doctors of medicine, statesmen, Missionaries and Ministers of the Gospel: that large numbers of its graduates have risen to high places of trust and honor; that not a few, for various eminent services, have been placed on the roll of the most distinguished men of our age; and that this Academy has been a fountain of measureless influences, which through many channels have flowed forth for the good of our Country and of the world.
They desire likewise to acknowledge the great goodness of God in bestowing his favor so largely and continually upon the Institution, and in still raising up for it true friends and generous benefactors.
And to Him, in whose name the Academy was founded, the Trustees desire to dedicate it anew for the promotion of good learning; for the instruction of youth respecting 'the true [sic] end and real business of living'; and for the upbuilding of his Kingdom throughout the world.
Adjourned. Attest C. F. P. Bancroft, Clerk.(53)
A few weeks later the following item appeared in a local newspaper:
Principal Bancroft, of Phillips Academy, has taken passage for Liverpool, in the Batavia, leaving Boston July 6th, expecting to spend a few weeks in England and Scotland, and returning before the commencement of the Fall term.(54)
Cecil Franklin Patch Bancroft had earned his vacation.