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THE SEMI-CENTENNIAL ANNIVERSARY.
In May 1883, a committee representing the Pastoral Union, Trustees, Faculty, and Alumni, was appointed to make arrangements for the celebration of the semi-centennial anniversary of the Institute. At an early day, all who had been students of the Seminary, and the members of the Pastoral Union, received a cordial invitation to participate in the memorial observance on Wednesday, May 7, 1884. Special invitations were also extended to many residents of Hartford, and notices of the services were published in the local newspapers.
Returning alumni and invited guests were welcomed to the generous hospitality of the homes of the many friends of the Seminary in the city.
From a wider extent of territory than was ever before represented on any occasion in the history of the Institute, its graduates and friends gathered in numbers that did honor to the commemoration, and betokened their loyalty to its past and future.
Assurances of warm interest in the Institution and its jubilee were received from foreign and home missionaries and pastors, unable to be present.
The weather all through the anniversary days was unpropitious. A cold northeast storm prevailed; but the attendance at the business meeting of the Alumni Association, at an early hour on Wednesday, was large. Rev. Dr. A. C. Thompson was chosen president, Rev. S. B. Forbes of Rockville, Conn., vice-president, with Rev. G. W. Winch of Enfield, secretary for three years. Appropriate mention was made of the death of Rev. M. S. Goodale, D.D., of Amsterdam, N. Y., of the class of '36, the first that graduated from the Seminary, and who was to have given a paper on Dr. Nettleton on this occasion, also of Rev. Benjamin Howe, . class of '41, of Linebrook, Ipswich, Mass.
The Chapel of Hosmer Hall, and one of the adjoining rooms, were filled at the opening of the commemorative exercises, by the large audience, which, besides the guests from abroad, included many friends from the city.
. At ten o'clock Rev. S. B. Forbes, vice-president of the Alumni Association, took the chair, and called upon Rev. Dr. Laurie of Providence, to offer prayer. Rev. Lyman Whiting, D.D., read the Scriptures, and after singing, Mr. Rowland Swift, in behalf of the Trustees and the citizens of Hartford, delivered a most felicitous and hearty address of welcome.
Rev. Professor William Thompson, the venerable Dean of the Faculty, then delivered the Historical Discourse, reviewing, as only an eye-witness could, the life and work of the Institute during the half-century of its existence, and of his own life-work in its service.
Rev. Lavalette Perrin, D.D., followed with a paper on Dr. Bennet Tyler, the Seminary's only “ President” and first Professor of Theology.
The close and vital“ Relation of the Seminary to the Cause of Foreign Missions,” was thoroughly and interestingly developed by Rev. Dr. A. C. Thompson of Boston.
The hour for recess having arrived, it was necessary to omit the reading of Rev. Dr. H. M. Parsons' tribute to the everblessed memory of Rev. Asahel Nettleton, D.D., whose character and work are sacredly cherished among the successive generations of students as a most precious inheritance of the past, and a bright goal of their high calling.
The intermission afforded a pleasant opportunity for the social reunion and intercourse of the large company present. The main hall and its adjoining rooms were thronged with ladies and gentlemen, many of the latter meeting, after long separation, as old friends and fellow-students.
At 1 o'clock two hundred and fifty guests were seated in
the music room, and two adjoining class-rooms, where an ample collation was handsomely served, after the blessing had been asked by President Noah Porter of Yale College.
To the Chairman of the Prudential Committee, Mr. George Kellogg, and the many ladies who so kindly assisted his efforts, all were indebted for the very thoughtful and complete provision for their comfort and enjoyment.
The chapel was again well filled by those who reassembled to enjoy the exercises of the afternoon, which were happily conducted by Professor Lewellyn Pratt, in place of Rev. Dr. Henry M. Field, who had accepted the invitation to preside, but was unable to be present.
The paper presented by Rev. John H. Goodell of Windsor Locks, on “ The Biblical Teaching of the Seminary—its Distinctive Feature," was listened to with marked interest as a contribution of permanent value to the Institution.
From a large number of letters received by the committee from the alumni and other friends, Rev. W. S. Hawkes of South Hadley Falls, Mass., read carefully selected and copious extracts, which were heard with evident pleasure by all, and with personal interest by many. These reminiscences presented a varied and graphic picture of the successive periods of seininary life, as seen from within, which will be treasured in printed form by many more than those who heard their recital.
“Several carefully prepared impromptu addresses ” were .then announced by the chairman.
The first to respond was Rev. Dr. Cushing Eells of the class of '37, who told the thrilling story of his missionary life and labors in Oregon and Washington Territories during the past forty-five years of service. In his allusion to his intimate relation with the martyred Dr. Whitman, in the early history of the great Northwest, he became truly “ the old man eloquent." Upon his retirement, the fact was related that while thus engaged in missionary work amid the hardships of frontier life, he and his wife had earned and given to the cause of Christian education over fifteen thousand dollars.
Rev. Francis Williams of the class of '41, spoke facetiously of the social life at East Windsor Hill when he was a student there.
President Porter of Yale presented the salutations of that sister seminary, with many bright and interesting allusions to the past and present relations between the two institutions.
Rev. Graham Taylor of Hartford, referred to the indebtedness of the city pastors for the library privileges so freely granted them at Hosmer Hall. He alluded to the deep obligation felt by many of the city churches for the valuable assistance rendered by the students in their Sunday-schools and prayer-meetings. The appreciation of their presence and services by people and pastors is very apparent each year, in the many ways in which, he assured them, their absence is felt. On behalf of the “ Pastors' Mission,” he thanked the students, especially for the noble response they had made to the appeal for their aid in conducting evangelistic services in the most destitute parts of the city. Nearly all of them had volunteered service. The unfailing regularity with which they had met their appointments, and the spirit and efficiency with which they had done “the work of an evangelist,” not only in the services, but in thoroughly canvassing whole sections of the city, and in calling as opportunity invited from house to house, deserved a public recognition as hearty as the personal appreciation it had received from all directly associated with them in the work.
The varied programme of the afternoon was brought to a close by the reading of a poem entitled “The Survival of the Axe," prepared for the occasion by Rev. Theron Brown, of the class of 1859, a Baptist clergyman of Norwood, Mass. The play of its feeling, humorous and earnest, met with appreciative response from his amused and interested auditors.
The commemorative services of the day were fittingly closed with the concert of the “ Hosmer Hall Choral Union,” in the Asylum Hill Congregational Church, in the evening, under the direction of Associate Professor Waldo S. Pratt, with a chorus numbering one hundred and seventy-five voices, including almost all the seminary students, and with the