Laurenus Clark Seelye, First President of Smith College

Laurenus Clark Seelye, First President of Smith College

Laurenus Clark Seelye, First President of Smith College

Laurenus Clark Seelye, First President of Smith College

Excerpt

I wish to begin this foreward with a confession. When I first heard that a biography of President Seelye was being planned, I felt serious misgivings. I was fully conscious that of L. Clark Seelye, the man, there was much to say, as any one who ever came within his range must have been conscious. But to the reading public I thought that he was mainly of interest as the President of Smith College, and that in writing the history of his thirty-five years in this position he had largely satisfied public curiosity and thus anticipated any future biographer in the use of the most interesting part of the available material. His private life and characteristics, I feared, would interest only a small and intimate circle.

The reading of the following chapters has convinced me that I was wrong. My whole perspective is reversed. Instead of seeing Dr. Seelye as the man who made Smith College, I now see Smith College as one, though the greatest, of the achievements of Dr. Seelye. And this remarkable result is due to two factors: the quite extraordinary combination of charm and power in the subject of the biography, and the union of filial understanding and clear-sightedness in the author.

Mrs. Rhees begins by comparing Mr. Seelye to an old portrait. This is just. He could have been painted by Dürer or Holbein, or some master of clear outline and firmly modeled feature. But this book does much more than present such a portrait of the mature man. It traces with compelling interest his growth from his boyhood in a Connecticut farmhouse, through his life at school and college, his all-important years of travel . . .

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