Individual Training in Our Colleges

By Clarence F. Birdseye | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXI
SOME FURTHER FAILURES, WASTES AND LACK OF ECONOMIES OF OUR PRESENT COLLEGE COURSES

IT is not easy to define closely the failures of college life or to speak of them with certainty. Here our prophecies have always gone astray. These failures may come from taking a wrong course, or from so pursuing a proper one as to do absolute harm; they may admit of degrees, and be marked or inconspicuous. From the standard of college marks or honors there may be a seeming success, but a real failure in later life, because of some after developed weakness, such as ill health brought on by overstudy, by vice or similar causes.

Failures in college.

An apparent college failure may be followed by decided success in after life. There was a well-defined tradition in Amherst thirty-five years ago that Henry Ward Beecher had been a college failure up to the time of his graduation; that he had neglected most of his studies, and taken no particular rank; and that at the end he had been handed his diploma by Professor Snell with the words, "We give you this diploma, Mr. Beecher, not because you have earned it, but because you are the son of Lyman Beecher." It was said that the young man went out upon the campus and tore up his sheepskin. However that may have been, and notwithstanding his apparent failure in college, he became Amherst's most distinguished alumnus.

An apparent failure.

The true reason for his transcendent success as an orator lay in his Individual Training in that line. This has been well described as follows: --

Reasons for his ultimate success.

"At 14 years of age he entered the Mount Pleasant Institute. He was a stout, stocky boy, well trained to habits of obedience and hard work. But his voice was thick and husky, with enunciation very indistinct, partly from shyness, partly from enlargement of the tonsils. He usually had to say any-

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