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Full text of "Memorial service in honor of William Preston Johnston, LL. D., first president of Tulane Univesity, 1884-1899; introductory address"

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William Preston Johnston, LLD. 







B. M. PALMER. D. D. 


T^HE audience being assembled in Tulane Hall on the 
evening of December 20th, 1899, the services were opened 
by the Rt. Rev. Davis Sessums, D. D., who offered the 


Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my 
heart, be always acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength 
and my redeemer. 

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our 
hearts unto wisdom. 

O God, the Sovereign Lord and King, who hast given unto 
men the administration of government upon earth, we make 
our supplications unto Thee, for all those who have that trust 
committed to their hands. Enable them, we pray Thee, to fulfil 
the same to Thy honor and the welfare of the nations among 
whom they rule. Especially we implore Thy favor on Thy 
servants, the President of the United States, the Governor of 
this State, and all who have the making or executing of law 
in the land. Endue them with uprightness and wisdom, with 
firmness and clemency, remembering whose ministers they 

are, and the account which they must render at Thy throne. 
To the people of all ranks and conditions among us, give the 
spirit of obedience to government, and of contentment under 
its protection, in leading peaceable and honest lives. 

Let the righteousness prevail which exalteth a nation, and 
throughout our land let the name of Thy Son be acknowledged 
as King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, to Thy honor and glory, 
who art God over all, blessed for evermore. Amen. 

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, the true light 
which lighteth every man that cometh into the world, we be- 
seech Thee, regard with Thy favor and visit with Thy blessing 
the colleges and schools in our land, and especially that insti- 
tution whose representatives are here assembled. Assist all 
who are guardians of their interests, and secure to them 
the means of their usefulness. Endue all those who are 
teachers with a serious sense of their charge, and wisdom and 
strength for its fulfilment. 

Teach the students, we pray Thee, to choose their path so 
as to keep it according to Thy word. Inspire them with high 
hopes and worthy purposes, and so prepare them to fulfil 
their course with honor, that they may attain the glorious 
destiny to which Thou dost call them in the life to come ; 
through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Almighty God, with whom do live the spirits of those 
who depart hence in the Lord, and with whom the spirits of 
the faithful, after they are delivered from the burdens of the 
flesh; are in joy and felicity ; we give Thee hearty thanks for 
the good examples of all those Thy servants, who having 

finished their course in faith, do now rest from their labors — 
and especially for the good example of Him whose life we 
now commemorate. 

And we beseech Thee, that we, with all those who are 
departed in the true faith of Thy Holy Name, may have our 
perfect consummation and bliss, both in body and soul, in Thy 
eternal and everlasting glory ; through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, 
and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all ever- 
more. Amen. 

Hon. Charles B. Fenner, President of the Board of Ad- 
ministrators, then made the following introductory address: 
Gentlemen of Tulane University of Louisiana*. 

The Faculty of all the departments of Tulane, the stu- 
dents in all of its various branches, together with this large 
and representative audience, have assembled here to-night to pay 
a feeble tribute to the memory of William. Preston Johnston, 
the first President of the University. His life was adorned by 
every public and private virtue, and by various and illustrious 
achievements in many branches. As a patriot, as a scholar, 
as a man of Letters, as a poet, as a soldier and as a Christian, 
his whole life was devoted to the building up of a character 
wanting no element calculated to attract the love and admira- 
tion of his fellows. And this life he had the pleasure of 
crowning by the successful performance of that task to which 
its later years were devoted ; the building up of this great 
University, in the annals of which his name, as its first Presi- 
dent, will always be associated with those of Paul Tulane an4 

Randall Lee Gibson, the latter the first President of the Board 
of Administrators. 

He was my friend from my early youth to the very mo- 
ment of his death, and in that death life lost for me, as for 
many, many others, a charm which nothing can ever replace. 
If I should attempt to speak of him as 1 feel, my feeble tongue 
would fail to find words in which to voice the sentiments of 
love and admiration which my heart has ever felt for him. 
But that pleasure has been confided to a far abler one than my- 
self. I well remember that at the grand anti-lottery meeting, 
which was held in the Grand Opera House at the inauguration 
of that memorable campaign, the presiding officer, who was 
Col. Johnston, in introducing to that audience the great orato* 
to whom you are to listen to-night, spoke of him as *'the most 
illustrious citizen of Louisiana," and I feel that all of you will 
join with me in paying the same tribute to him, whose virtues 
as a citizen, whose eminence as a Christian, whose erudition as 
a scholar, and whose eloquence as an orator, have made his 
name one of the brightest in our State, and it is with pleasure 
that I now present to you the Rev. Dr. B. M. Palmer. 

Dr. Palmer then delivered the following 


Mr. (President and Gentlemen of the (Board of Administration; 
Members of the Faculty of the Various ^Departments of 
Tulane upon this platform; Students of the several Col' 
leges, professional and academic; Fellow-Citizens of 
JVew Orleans: 
Tulane University institutes to-night her third Lodge of 

Sorrow. The first was upon the occasion of the death of Mr. 
Paul Tulane, the benefactor and, within certain limits, the 
founder as well of this University; a man who came from 
abroad, amassed in this city his wealth, and, having bound 
himself by no family ties, was pleased at the last to make the 
people of Louisiana, and the citizens of New Orleans espec- 
ially, his heirs. The second occasion was on the death of the 
first President of the Board of Administration, General Ran- 
dall L. Gibson, the gallant soldier and wise Senator, bound in 
close association with others in devising this bequest of Mr. 
Tulane, and whose guiding hand did so much for the institu- 
tion which, in the providence of God, he was permitted to live 
only just long enough to see emerge from its condition of 
chrysalis into the full proportions of an expanded University. 
To-night we gather around the tomb of the first President of 
the University itself, William. Preston Johnston, LX. D. 

Col. Johnston was born in 1831, and traced his origin 
back to a noble stock. It is vain to pour contempt upon the 
pride which traces one's history back to a noble heritage. It 
adds grace to virtue when it descends from sire to son, 

"And is successively, from blood to blood, 
The right of birth." 

It is a just ambition which inspires men in their several gen* 


' 'To draw forth a noble ancestry 
From the corruption of abusing time, 
Unto a lineal, true-derived course." 

The family history of the Johnstons emerges first into 
light in the person of Captain Archibald Johnston, of Salis- 
bury, Connecticut, who, from a document bearing the date of 

1 77 1) was evidently born in a little strip of territory called 
Oblong, just between tbe borders of New York on the one 
side and Connecticut on the other. In 1775 he was commis- 
sioned as a captain in the Revolutionary army of patriots, and 
fought throughout the entire American war, dying at last in 
1 789. He is described as a large landholder and a man of ex- 
tensive influence, being a leader of men in his generation. 
Bold and daring in character, frank, without concealment ; pos- 
sessing all the hereditary traits of his Scotch descent, from a 
family which at an earlier colonial period had settled in Duch- 
ess county, New York. His son, John Johnston, the second 
link in this line of descent, after graduation at Yale, studied 
medicine at Litchfield, Connecticut, and became, in his day, 
an eminent practitioner. He settled later in the State of Ken- 
tucky, which thenceforward became the domicile of the John- 
stons. He inherited all the qualities of his Scotch birth — a 
people, as you all know, famed in history for the strength of 
their convictions and the rugged determination of their will ; 
and, who like the massive mountains of their own country , have 
endured through centuries of tempest and storm. He is rep- 
resented as frank, even to bluntness, and was a conspicuous 
leader in his age. He was twice married ; first in the family 
of the Stoddards, and, at a later period, contracting marriage 
with a Miss Abigail Harris, daughter of a certain Edward 
Harris, who had the reputation in his day of being an exceed- 
ingly pious Puritan. Thus we find the heroic qualities which 
adorned our friend, and which we are assembled here to-night 
to commemorate, came to him from two confluent streams — 
Scotch upon the one hand and Puritan upon the other. Of 

the Scotch I have already spoken, and of those peculiar char- 
acteristics which even from ancient times found embodiment 
in the expression of the " mens perfervida scotorum." Of the 
Puritans, however they may be subjected to ridicule because 
of the fantastic garb which only concealed heroic qualities, the 
verdict of history has long since been pronounced, that to 
them England, and America as well, owe to this day all their 
chartered liberties. It was fitting, therefore, that our friend 
should feel the pride of birth in tracing it back to such an an- 

Of this second marriage, the youngest son, forming the 
third link in this line of descent of our friend, was General 
Albert Sydney Johnston. Surely nothing more is needed in 
this presence to-night than the mention of his name — the con- 
summate Confederate General whose early fall in the battle of 
Shiloh cast the first gloom upon the Confederate arms, deep- 
ening soon afterwards in the death of the lamented Jackson ; 
the two events forming almost a prophecy of the failing 
fortunes of the cause which was nearest to the hearts of both. 
It is wonderful how greatness of soul sometimes expresses itself 
in a single aphorism. You, sir, and many others on this platform 
and in this audience to-night, remember the spasm of remorse 
which passed through this Southland when the news came back 
from Tennessee that Albert Sydney Johnston had fallen in the 
very hour of victory, and when he was leading his troops on 
to triumph. Certain unjust criticisms, growing out of the 
failure of a few maneuvers in the field, having been made, the 
magnanimity of this hero was able to ward from him the pub- 
lic censure ; and in the kindness of a generous, as well as a 


great nature, he could even apologize for his traducers by say- 
ing, in substance, the test of military leadership must be suc- 
cess. Marvelous is the power of true greatness exemplified in 
this hero and fallen martyr to our cause, who was able thus to 
repose upon his own consciousness of personal merit. 

In early life. General Johnston married into the family of 
the Prestons of Virginia, and the issue of that marriage was 
William Preston Johnston, embalming in his name his pater- 
nal and maternal origin. Upon the early death of his wife, 
General Johnston saw fit to cast his fortune with the rising 
Republic of Texas, and thus his son at the early age of four 
years, was left to the care of maternal relatives, gaining the 
rudiments of education, first of all, in the schools of Louisville? 
enlarged afterwards in tjie instruction received at Centre 
College, Danville, Kentucky, the Military Institute at George- 
town, Kentucky, and completed at last by his graduation at 
the University of Yale. He had been from his earliest youth a 
reader and student, and even at that period of his life gave evi- 
dence of that exquisite literary and critical taste which formed 
his highest intellectual characteristic in after years. In proof 
of this he carried off the Townsend prize for English compo- 
sition at Yale ; and thus in his very youth was our friend 
^^ primus inter primos^''^ as he always remained in after years, 
best among equals. Graduating at Yale he entered upon the 
study of Law, receiving his diploma from the University of 
Louisville in 1852 ; and in 1853 was united in marriage with 
Miss Rosa Duncan, the daughter of John N. Duncan, of New 
Orleans, the marriage being contracted in New Haven, Con- 
necticut — an incident worthy of being noted as almost a prophecy 


of his later aud more intimate relations with the heople of 
Louisiana. The practice of Law in the city of Louisville was, 
in due time, interrupted by the outbreak of the war between 
the States in 1861. Our friend, having imbibed the historic 
and political principles which descended from the founders of 
this Confederated Republic, was among the first in Kentucky 
to espouse the cause of the Confederacy and to engage in the 
raising and equipment of troops for the army. He was himself 
made Major of the 2d Kentucky regiment, from which he was 
presently transferred to the ist regiment, with the rank of 
Lieutenant Colonel ; and his first military service was in the 
Northern part of Virginia during the year 1861, upon the line 
of Fairfax and Acotinck. A severe attack of Typhoid-pneu- 
monia very soon disabled him from service in the field. His 
own regiment having been disbanded during his illness he 
was at once selected by President Davis and placed upon his 
Staff as an Aide de Camp, with the rank of Colonel, and be- 
came the confidential officer upon the Staff of our great civil 
chieftain in conducting his intercourse with the Generals 
in the field. 

I may be allowed to pause just at this point to remark 
that wonderful guidance of Providence which shapes the ends 
which great men are to accomplish in their later life. It is 
only when we stand at the stem of the ship, that we are able in 
the darkness of the night to trace the path which she cuts 
through the waters by the phosphorescent light which gleams 
upon that path as far as the eye can reach. So it is only when 
we draw to the close of an exalted history, that we are able to 
place our finger upon what we once termed the accident of 


early life which gave inspiration to the man and to the life. 
It means a great deal to a boy ten years of age, in whose bosom 
slumbers the spark of genius yet undiscovered, to read the right 
book at the right moment, when the electric spark shall fire a 
noble ambition, which in after years is to become the inspiration 
of a great man. It may appear to be a matter of caprice, a sim- 
ple whim of a half-instructed father, when he sends his boy of 
seventeen to this college or to that ; but he may there chance 
to strike the particular mind which shall be the steel bringing 
fire out of the flint to fill the after centuries with the light of 
advancing knowledge. It is interesting to see how our friend 
was trained for his later work by the strange Providences which 
directed his earlier career. Possessing a classic and literary 
taste, duly cultivated in the higher Institutions of learning, 
in the very opening of his own ripe manhood he drew in with 
his breath those immortal principles which for a hundred 
years, have been lying at the foundation of this great govern- 
ment and were the corner stone of this great nation of ours, 
his mind expanding under the influence of the massive ideas 
which he had absorbed. Just at that moment, in the discharge 
of those duties assigned to him as a messenger to the fields of 
battle, he touched here and there, there and here and every- 
where around the circle of war, the great heroic spirits that 
have made the history of our time. Could it have been other- 
wise, than that the son of Albert Sydney Johnston, could help, 
when he thus touches such spirits as I have described, being 
fully charged with the electricity of his age ? And so he was 
fashioned into greatness, not alone by the education of the 
schools, but by that sterner discipline and larger and riper 


education whicli has its birth in the storm of battle, in the midst 
of carnage and of war. He was faithful to the fortunes of 
President Davis throughout his entire career, and was with 
him to the end. He was himself taken captive and for months 
imprisoned in solitary confinement at Fort Delaware ; and so 
he stands before us to-night, side by side with that great civil 
leader who was always great in all the relations which he sus- 
tained to his country and the world — but greatest in the sub- 
lime courage with which he endured defeat, and bearing upon 
his bosom the badge of martyrdom, of martyrdom for us. 

Mr. President, there are but three names in modem his- 
tory which, in my judgment, stand side by side in their un- 
sullied patriotism and in the brightness of their excessive 
moral greatness. The first of these is the Silent William, the 
Prince of Orange, who, if my memory serves me aright, never 
won a single battle, but who, by patient endurance, led a brave 
people through a protracted struggle to final triumph and na- 
tional independence. The second of this immortal trio is he 
before whose name a grateful nation has bowed, these hundred 
years, on the 2 2d day of February — "The Father of His Coun- 
try" — the immortal Washington. These were examples of 
magnificent success under the most trying circumstances, but 
the third who stands beside the other two is the twin brother — 
though separated by the breadth of a century — of that great 
Virginian, our own Robert B. Lee. It was in touch with men 
like these that the final cast was given to the character of him 
whose virtues we are assembled here to commemorate. 

At the close of the war Col. Johnston returned to the 
practice of law in the city of Louisville for the short period of 


time intervening between 1865 and 1867, when, at the call of 
Gen. Lee, he is summoned to the University of Washington 
and Lee as Professor of History and English Literature. 
There, for the ten years between 1867 and 1877, these two 
allied spirits sat side by side, the younger drawing inspiration 
from the heroism and learning of the elder. 

Robert B. Lee was not greater, as the commander lead- 
ing forth his troops to conquer on the field of battle, than on 
that day when he stood before the tattered fragments of his 
army and tendered the hilt of his sword to the General of the 
Union forces at Appomatox. And that fine sense of military 
courtesy, which is born only of battle and bravery, never had 
a more graceful illustration than when the hilt of that sword 
was returned to the hands of the defeated hero. But if 
Robert B. Lee was great in the hour of defeat, sustaining him- 
self with a dignity which can be admired, though scarcely ex- 
celled, he reached the summit of moral grandeur when he laid 
aside the trappings of authority and power to teach the youth 
of the South how to gather up the scattered fragments of their 
homes and of the prosperity which had been taken from them 
by the war. These are the associations that make heroic 
men ; and it is not strange that he, who came later into our 
own University, should, in his private and public life, illus- 
trate the virtues with which he was adorned. 

Col. Johnston remained at Washington and Lee Uni- 
versity until 1877, during which time he wrote the life of his 
father, one of the richest contributions which have been made to 
the history of our time. In 1880 he removed to Louisiana, as- 
suming the Presidency of the State University at Baton Rouge, 


which position he occupied until 1884, when he was called to 
the Presidency of Tulane University. In 1883 Mr. Paul 
Tulane wrote to the Board of Administrators of Tulane Uni- 
versity, expressing his desire to bequeath at least a portion of 
his fortune to that Institution. In that letter, which is the 
Magna Charter of that Institution, occurs this memorable sen- 
tence, that whilst he desires the University to be in no sense 
sectarian, it was also his wish that nothing should ever be 
taught within its walls that should contravene the authority of 
the Sacred Scriptures, the inspired Word of God. I emphasize 
this sentence in that letter, simply to show that, in the judg- 
ment of the wise and the good, it is never safe to divorce edu- 
cation from religion ; certainly not from that education which 
is intended to fit man for the duties which belong to an im- 
mortal being ; for the duties of this life can only be adequately 
performed by those who have regard for the account and the 
life which is beyond the tomb. 

In order to estimate the worth of Col. Johnston's admin- 
istration, it will be necessary for a moment to glance at the 
difficulties experienced in its inception. There is a letter of 
Mr. Tulane authorizing the establishment of a University and 
malting transfer of certain moneys with which it was to be en- 
dowed ; but at this point it is an Institution that exists only 
upon paper ; it is without plant, Faculty or students. The only 
organization as yet effected is the Board directing its affairs 
and the superior officer who shall preside over the destinies 
of the projected Institution. The first difficulty which he en- 
countered was in obtaining a plant, for it must have a local 
habitation as well a^ a papie, This was soon overcome by a 


contract between the State of Louisiana and the Board of Admin, 
istrators of Tulane University, in which contract the State 
transfers its existing Institution, with its Medical, Law and 
Academic Departments, into the hands of the new Tulane 
Board. This Board, on its part, in this contract with the 
State, agreed to consecrate all its moneys to the building up 
of a University which should be worthy of the great State in 
which it was established, and of the giver by whom it was par- 
tially endowed. The old plant which thus came into their 
possession was immediately occupied on the square bounded 
by the streets of Baronne, Common, Dryades and Canal ; until 
the buildings, or at least one of them, became too unsafe 
to be longer tenanted ; and the second, perhaps the most im- 
portant of the three, had been superseded by an elegant struc- 
ture, through the munificence of a noble lady of this city. 
The plant was then transferred from its old location to the new 
buildings and to the new site on St. Charles Avenue, opposite 
Audubon Park. 

The second difficulty to be encountered was to provide 
for a succession of students who should have attained a suffi- 
cient grade to be enrolled in classes which belong to a true 
and a great University. For whilst some of these classes 
came from the old University under the former training of 
Mr. Jesse, when these should have graduated others must be 
raised to take their place. This led to the establishment of 
the High School, of which the lamented Mr. Hurt was Princi- 
pal, which continued only so long, however, as to carry the 
University over that critical period of its existence. As soon 
as it could safely be dispensed with, it was abolished and Mr, 


Hurt was transferred to tlie Professorship of Greek in the 
University proper. The training of youths in the prepara- 
tory studies was remanded to the public and private schools, 
and academies of the city and State; the University taking' 
pains to keep itself in line with these earlier institutions, 
agreeing to receive without preliminary examination their 
students who should bear certificates of a certain grade of 
scholarship. And so, from that day to this, the University 
has been extending its influence all over the State ; for it is 
of the nature of education that, like the rain from Heaven, it 
shall come down from above and percolate the soil, thus nour- 
ishing the roots which underlie the vegetation, the flowers and 
fruits which grow upon the surface of the earth. In addition 
to this High School, the wisdom of Colonel Johnston perceived 
the necessity of a school of manual training in which young 
men should acquire dexterity in the handling of tools of 
every kind. As soon, however, as the University was com- 
pletely organized this training school merged into what is 
now modestly termed "the work shops," a necessary equipment 
in the Department of Technology. In this process of devel- 
opment the superior judgment of Colonel Johnston was chiefly 
displayed in the selection of men for the chairs of instruction 
required in a great University. Having been himself for 
fourteen years a teacher in the higher schools of learning, he 
was brought in touch with all branches of universal educa- 
tion ; and was therefore largely associated with those men 
who were engaged in the business of education. It was his 
habit to correspond, or through personal knowledge, come in 
contact with other educators from every section — possessing 


that rare insight which Burns describes as ^'keeking through 
a man with critical inspection." I believe that, in all his 
selection of men to occupy chairs in the Academic Department, 
he never made a mistake ; never had occasion to reverse his 
own judgment. Up to the present moment never has there 
appeared before the Board of Administrators an applicant pre- 
senting his credentials and soliciting appointment to any 
office. The method hitherto has been for the University to 
search for and to secure its own men. This could not have 
been the case under the administration of any other than a man 
of singular judgment and large acquaintance with the educa- 
tional men of his time. 

Colonel Johnston was marked from his birth, as might 
have been expected, with strong will power. I think it was 
apparent even to outsiders that it was only under the leverage 
of a masterly will that his frail body could have been sus- 
tained through years of suffering and of trial. Though never 
surrendering his own convictions when presenting candidates 
before the Board, such was his dignity and suavity of manner, 
so circumspect in all his utterances and so considerate of the 
higher authority of the Board itself, that I presume in all the 
records of these fifteen years, there can not be found an in- 
stance of disagreement between the Board and the President 
of the University. Sufficient proof of the wisdom of his ad- 
ministration is found in the fact that since his death the Insti- 
tion has gone forward with its own momentum, under the 
guidance of those who are naturally placed over its affairs, in 
such a way as to be most successful even under the threat of 


the epidemic wliich clouded the opening of its present session. 
I can scarcely trust myself, Mr. President, to draw the 
portrait of such a man as Colonel Johnston. I have presented 
his superlative wisdom and the force with which his views 
were always presented and the strength of argument by which 
he generally carried his point. He was a man of exquisite 
literary taste, possessing a poetic temperament, so that all his 
writings, even his fugitive addresses made before different audi- 
ences, and the larger work of his biography of his eminent 
father are all of them examples of perfect English. In his 
poetic effusions there are to be found passages of sweetest sen- 
timent, often quaintly expressed, which glitter like gems of 
rare beauty in a casket of pearls. 

Of his religion I would speak with tenderness and mod- 
eration, and yet there is one feature of his religious life which 
I would like greatly to emphasize. My first intimate talk 
with our friend was in his earliest domestic sorrow in 1885, 
when he was called upon to lose the wife of his youth and the 
mother of his children, and afterwards in the death of his only 
son. In the gloaming before the artificial lights were kindled, 
he came into my home, sat by me in my study, quietly opened 
his breast and showed me the two wounds which were bruising 
his heart. Uttering but a single wail of bitter anguish, he 
bowed in reverential submission to that Divine will which 
had seen fit to take from him his loved ones. Then drawing his 
mantle over the wound, he went through the door of my house 
with a calm and peaceful smile on his face and mingled with 
the outside world as though there were no wound in his heart. 
None ever met him from that daj' of sorrow until he himself 


passed away, except those drawn to him in the intimacy of his 
home, who ever heard a sigh or moan from those lips. In 1893 a 
daughter passed to the realm of the blessed, and I naturally 
sought him in his chamber. Burying his head for a moment 
beneath his pillow, I heard one sob, and then came the 
same calm and perfect acquiescence in the wisdom and will of 
Him who doeth all things well. The soundness of his relig- 
ious faith may be inferred from an old and well-worn copy of 
a favorite hymn, found in his pocket-book, beginning with the 
familiar lines : 

"Just as I am without one plea, 

But that Thy blood was shed for me, 

And that Thou bidst me come to Thee 

O, lyamb of God, I come;" 

and he remained to the end of life a faithful member of the 
Bpiscopal Church. Upon the ledge of the drawer of his desk 
in his office was attached this printed slip: "I shall pass 
through this world but once. Any good thing therefore that 
I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being 
let me do it now, and not neglect it, for I shall not pass this 
way again." These are the utterances left behind, which in- 
dicate the character of a ripe religious mind. All the doubts 
and fears which had ever come to him had long since been dis- 
pelled, and though his life was made sweeter by the ties which 
connected him with the living, yet he was willing to go at the 
Master's call, trusting in no work of his own, but in God's in. 
finite mercy. 

It was not strange, my friends, that three years after his 
first bitter bereavement, he should find solace in a second mar- 
riage with a lady whose name may not be pronounced in this 


assemblage, for she sits with us,* under the veil of her deep 
widowhood, bearing her sorrow with Christian fortitude and 
having only this comfort, that for eleven years she was the 
solace and stay of his declining age. 

In the crypt of St. Paul's Cathedral at London repose the 
ashes of Sir Christopher Wren, the world-renowned architect 
and designer of that great edifice which is one of the wonders 
of the age ; and upon his tomb is this brief but sublime in- 
scription : " Si requiris monumentum^ circums-pice^'' The 
ashes of our beloved friend lie in the beautiful cemetery at 
Louisville. At the head of his grave will shortly rise a testi- 
monial shaft bearing upon its polished marble in metrical 
rhythm the inscription of his name and manly virtues. But 
if in this or any other age the stranger shall seek the monu- 
ment of William Preston Johnston, it will not be found in the 
marble above his tomb, but on our own highway where those 
buildings stand in all their beauty of architecture and where 
our youth are gathered for the rich instruction there afforded. 
And if it ever be given a pure spirit to look down from above 
upon the scenes of its earthly success, we may almost fancy him 
whispering to himself — " Exegi monumentum aere perennius, 

Mr. President, there is a silence in death which has no 
voice, and yet it is a silence that can be felt. Do you ask me 
to interpret the voice of that silence to-night ? It is to say to 
these administrators that in the death of our great friend there 
devolves upon us a solemn trust. It may be rash for me to 
make the statement in the presence of these educators, yet I 

* NoTK.— On the 25th of April, 1888, Colonel Johnston was united in marriage 
with Miss Margaret H. Avery, daughter of Judge Daniel D. Avery. 


can not repress the conviction, even before them, that within 
the last forty years, in this country of ours, we have entered 
upon a stupendous educational experiment, and one which 
must be conducted to a safe conclusion. For centuries two or 
three back, I might say from the revival of letters in Europe, 
the training of the educated classes was conducted upon what 
may be described as a horizontal plane. That is to say, the 
young men who were educated, generally for the learned pro- 
fessions alone, were all taught under the same curriculum, 
going successively through the same course, and supposed to 
graduate with the the same amount of general knowledge. It 
can not be denied that the experience of centuries has shown 
the exceeding wisdom evinced in the selection of the studies in 
that old curriculum. There was just enough of the classics 
to teach the young mind how to compare and to judge. The 
youth opens the dictionary to find the meaning of a word, and 
to his distress he finds twelve given, out of which only one 
will fit the word in the particular passage which he is called to 
translate. What a lesson is this in what is termed " probable 
reasoning." It is that kind of reasoning which is called for 
in the ordinary affairs of life — which is used at the bar, in 
halls of legislation, and before a popular assembly, comparing 
this with that, and that with this — forming at last a conclusion 
that is more or less definite and satisfactory in proportion as 
the reasoning itself has been just and close. There was in 
that curriculum just enough of mathematics to rivet the at- 
tention upon the matter in hand, not permitting it to waver 
for an instant, and carrying it through all the stages of the 
most rigorous logic, until at last a demonstration is reached. 


There was just enough in the old curriculum of natural science 
to make one sufficiently acquainted with the laws of the mate- 
rial world and the various forces which exist in Nature. There 
was also just enough of metaphysics to give subtlety to the 
mind, sharpening it to such an edge that, in the language of 

"It can with ease a hair divide 
Betwixt its south and southwest side. ' ' 

There was added to these just enough of general literature to 
polish the mind and to make the taste accurate and beautiful 
in the interpretation of thought through the word. The ex- 
cellence of this system was in the fact that it was Education 
in the etymological sense of the term — educing the powers of 
the mind and drawing them all up in equal proportion ; so 
that a young man graduating at twenty or twenty-one would 
be, to use an expression often heard from the lips of our friend 
whom we remember to-night, "an all-around man," with all 
his mental faculties broadened and equally developed. In 
the perfect symmetry of all his intellectual powers, he would 
be able to devote himself to any special study or any special 
department which his tastes or the circumstances of the times 
might require. 

During the last j&fty years science has made such tremen- 
dous strides, and the necessities of our people and our times 
are such that this old system has to be revised and remodeled. 
Formerly a single octavo volume would conduct the student 
through all the branches of natural science ; but now each one 
of these has developed into a colony of co-ordinate studies, 
each requiring its own text-book, and possibly a special teacher. 


How could all these be compressed within the old curriculum ? 
The entire system of education must be made broader, extend- 
ing its benefits to a larger number of persons following differ- 
ent pursuits in life. This in turn compelled the adoption of 
the elective principle, giving each student his choice of the stu- 
dies to be pursued. In place of the old-fashioned college, we 
have now the broad university, which is but a congress of 
schools, fitting men for different employments in life, and re- 
quiring a large endowment for the necessary equipment of the 
same. It is a scheme magnificent in its proportion, and ad- 
mirably adapted to the changed conditions of our age. The 
problem to be solved is that of adjusting this comprehensive 
system, with the elective principle at its base, with the sym- 
metrical development of all the mental powers by which all 
the great men of the past have been trained. 

I know that division of labor is necessary to secure per- 
fection in any given art, but the question is how to avoid 
turning men out as mere specialists, fitted only for a single 
pursuit and incapable of anything else. It is a problem 
which I believe will be solved ; because it must be solved in 
order to success, and because there are great minds engaged 
in working out its proper solution. Education has ceased 
to be a mere employment or simply a business. It has be- 
come a distinct profession, standing upon the same plane 
as the learned professions of the olden times, ranking with 
that of law and medicine, and with all the professions in 
which intellectual men formerly engaged. The noblest minds 
to be found in this country are doubtless devoting their en- 
ergy to the development and extension of educational interests 


and to the correction of all evils that may be inherent in 
the changes from one system to another. 

Now, sir, 1 turn from these Administrators to the citizens 
of New Orleans and the people of Louisiana for whom I have 
a parable. Motley, in his History of the Dutch Republic, de- 
scribes the seige of Ley den, so long protracted that its in- 
habitants were reduced to the point of starvation. Deliverance 
came at last, through the bravery of a people who could afford 
to sacrifice their Country in order to save it. It was only 
when the dykes of Holland were cut, allowing the waters of 
the ocean to overflow the land, that that protracted struggle 
was ended and the army of Philip driven back to their homes. 
It was under these circumstances that the Prince of Orange, 
with the consent of the States of Holland, tendered to the City 
of Leyden, as a reward of their heroic endurance the gift of a 
University, with designated revenues set apart for its endow- 
ment. This was the famous University of Leyden, which, for 
three centuries, has been the resort of scholars from all parts 
of Europe, and, in latter times, of America. This grant was 
made in October, 1574, and in February of the following year, 
1575, an immese procession, filled with allegorical repre- 
sentations of the gods and heroes and philosophers of ancient 
Greece and Rome, marched through the streets of Leyden to 
the buildings in which the University was formerly installed. 

More than fifty years ago there was in the streets of a 
certain city the familiar form of a man who lived the life of a 
hermit, going about in well-worn clothes and encountering the 
jibes and taunts of the boys in the streets as a miser. It was 
not until after his death that there was found a noble heart 


concealed beneatli that tattered garb. It had always been 
known that he lived only to accumulate wealth ; but it was not 
known until after his death that that wealth was amassed in 
order to endow the schools of the city in which he lived. In this 
personage you recognize McDonogh, with whose money have 
been erected the numerous buildings distributed over this city, 
in which are accommodated our Public Schools. 

More than forty years ago there came to this city a 
stranger from abroad. He, too, lived a lonely life, but not 
such a life as I have described ; and in his old age, before the 
gleam had quite gone out of his eyes, he wrote that will which 
bequeathed to the City of New Orleans the University which 
we represent in this Lodge to-night, transferring his property 
for the endowment of the same. I can recall as distinctly as 
though it were but yesterday, when I sat with him alone at his 
breakfast table, the gleam of that eye which shown like a flash 
of light as he said : "I have always loved the people of New 
Orleans, and I wish to leave a legacy, which shall be the token 
of my remembrance and of my love for them forever." He 
lived just long enough to carry out his almost life-long desire, 
passing then through death to the life above. 

Even this is not all. The elegant structure on the cen- 
tral artery of this city, in sight of the Charity Hospital, is the 
gift of another noble heart, beating with an ever fresh love for 
her native City — erected in honor of him whose name she 
bears, and who had but recently been an illustrious member 
of the Medical Staff connected with this University. 

The catalogue is not yet exhausted of benefits received 
from the hand of .charity. The handsome square on Washington 


Avenue, with its fine equipment of buildings, repre- 
sents another educational plant — the gift of another widowed 
heart that raises a memorial of her dead in the endowment of 
a superb College for the Education of the women of the South, 
and forming the Fifth District Department of Tulane Uni- 
versity. Such are the benefits which have been conferred upon 
us within a single generation. 

Citizens of New Orleans, if the University of Leyden 
was founded just after a period of adversity and trial carried 
to the extremes of want and of suffering, let it not be forgot- 
ten that the bequests which have been made to us came after 
the close of the great struggle, when our Southland was only 
just recovering from the desolations of a long and unsuccess- 
ful war. 

The Prince of Orange felt that the fortitude and courage of 
the people of Leyden could only be adequately rewarded by the 
gift of a great college. The people were worthy of the gift, and 
the gift was worthy of the people that received it. It is proper 
then to ask in this assembly to-night, whether — having in the 
hour of our darkness received a like bequest, a gift similar in 
character and equal iu grandeur to that bestowed three centu- 
ries ago upon the city of Le5^den — is it a gift worthy of the 
people that received it, and are we, the people of New Orleans, 
worthy to be trusted with it? You and I living here in this 
city at the end of a continent, are holding from the hand of 
the dead, a great and immortal trust ; and my appeal is to the 
conscience, and from the conscience to the heart and to all the 
sensibilities which are the attributes of a true and generous 
soul, that you will rise to the height of your opportunity and 


be able to say to the world that you are grateful and worthy 
of the trust which has been conveyed to you. You ask how 
it shall be accepted. Gather around this University with your 
sympathy, which can find expression in a thousand forms. 
Give to this University your sons and your daughters, as 
well. Let your children be educated at home. Let their first 
love be for the soil on which they were born : for all patriot- 
ism and all philanthropy are but the outcome of that earlier 
and deeper love which the human heart has for its home. 
Teach your boys and your girls a love for the home of their 
birth, such as a man feels only for the blessed mother who 
bore him ; a sort of lower worship, which is not idolatrous, 
because it does not interfere with that higher love and worship 
rendered to Almighty God. Give according to your wealth 
toward completing the endowment of this Institution. It 
takes more than a million to endow a great university. And 
just here allow me to speak of what I regard as the first want 
of the Institution under our care. It is the need of a closer 
academic life within itself. The professors and students are 
scattered over the breadth of this city. They need to be gath- 
ered nearer together and be united as an academic family. 
The ample grounds behind the present buildings afford space 
for a beautiful campus, upon which might be erected homes 
for the professors, with dormitories sufficient to receive the 
students who may come from abroad. We shall be ungrate- 
ful to the memory of those who have bestowed these large 
gifts, if we do not ourselves rise to a sense of our responsi- 
bilities and these claims which devolve upon us. Generations 
go, but they also come, and at no distant day there should be 


an army of students from abroad on these streets of ours and 
gathered in this noble Institution. Let us act in the pro- 
phetic hope that Medical Science shall banish the ever-recur- 
ring pestilence from our borders — when the marshes which 
surround us shall be drained into harvest fields — when our 
city and our State shall be throughout as a well-watered gar- 
den — and when our "sons shall grow up as plants in their 
youth, and our daughters be as corner-stones polished after the 
similitude of a palace."