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The garden of the church is choked ; and here
Benignant Tyler ! foremost in the band
Where sympathies of faith immortal meet, And chastened sorrow, and remembrance sweet, And greeting peace, and loyalty renewed, And reverence, and praise, and gratitude, And love, thro' winter's frost and summer's bloom With tender gifts come pilgrims to his tomb. There, 'neath the shadow of familiar walls, With nearer voice bis benediction falls, While yet, with vaster view of things below, He marks our warfare, hails each noble blow, And calls from heights through holy struggles won “ Be strong, my children! Let the work go on ! ”
Reminiscence by Rev. H. H. Kelsey of the class of '79.
I have been asked to refer to the transitional period of the Seminary's history. I suppose this topic was given to me because it was my good fortune to be connected with the Seminary for two or three years on each side of its transition from Prospect to Broad Streets. It was my fortune, or 'my fate, to be present when the Seminary moved—a fortune, perhaps, since there was given me, a lot granted to but few mortals—to see a theological seminary “on wheels.” It certainly was a fate to be so situated that your conscience compelled you to help lift the Seminary on wheels, especially when the major part of her material movable substance consisted of books. I helped moved the library twice; in 1877, when we moved 6,700 vols. from 33 to 46 Prospect St.; in 1880, when we moved 12,000 vols. to Broad St. We hope the time is not far distant when somebody will be obliged to move 40,000 vols. into a new and permanent home.
We left Prospect St., not with regrets, but with many pleasant, tender, sacred memories. We students had a good time there. We doubt if our successors in their present generous and beautiful home have a better. There was a peculiar social ease and freeness of life in those habitations of a departed aristocracy. I think, too, that there was a little flavor of social distinction in the atmosphere of the place which we felt. Prospect St. was once the court street of Hartford, and the most famous house on the street was the Wadsworth mansion in which we lived. It was the home of Col. Jeremiah Wadsworth, known in Revolutionary history as an efficient officer of the army, and a trusted friend of Washington. Whenever Washington was in this region the Wadsworth house was his home. When Benedict Arnold was committing his act of treason at West Point, Washington with Count de Rochambeau were enjoying the hospitality of Col. Wadsworth's board, in the very room which was our chapel and Hebrew recitation-room. The Day house, No. 48 Prospect St., where we dined and supped, was the home of Hon. Thomas Day, for many years Secretary of the State. His name appeared on all Fast Day and Thanksgiving proclamations, which always closed with the following words: “ Servile labor and vain recreation, on said day, are by law prohibited. By His Excellency's command, Thomas Day, Sec'y.”
These famous houses, had they been of the 15th century, might have been haunted, and have been thus doubly famous. For I doubt if there were in this country a better place for restless spirits than the unused attics, by-ways, and labyrinths of the Wadsworth house. I do not think we should have been much surprised, if, when we occasionally discovered some unknown room or unused passage, we had found it inhabited. There was enough of the famous, the romantic, and ghostly about the place to make it interesting. I think we students had a better time there than the professors. No rooms could be much more unsuitable for lecture-rooms than were those guest-chambers of the Wadsworth mansion. They were small, the light was bad, and the ventilation-usually there wasn't any. But in spite of the infelicities we cherish the memory of Prospect Street. We cherish the meinory of the earnest, devotional spirit and life of the students. Our life was free, hearty, and sometimes full of frolic. Our religious life, too, was hearty and natural. Evening prayer about the tables in the dining-room! It was family prayer. We lived close to each other. Then there was the prayer-meeting on Saturday evening, when we retired from the supper-table into the room adjoining, and together confessed our sins to God, and sometimes to each other: rehearsed our experiences, named our difficulties and needs, and cried to God for help: and always remembered in our prayers those of our number who had gone for the Sunday to preach, and all who had gone out from the Seminary to preach the Gospel. Such a spirit of devotion and healthy earnestness I have never felt elsewhere. This student prayer-meeting is one of the elements of this Seminary's present influence; one of the sources of its spiritual success.
Were there time I should like to speak of those dining-room scenes. When I was in the Seminary we had a number of “ characters” among us, and not infrequently “ things were lively.” I would not have you infer that there is any, want of character among the students at the present time. But perhaps “ character," if odd or witty, was discovered more then than now in the dining-room. The council was usually “by itself," and individualism always found an expression. Once a year a dinner was given to the Faculty and resident Trustees. We then showed our dignity—and good appetites. Good appetites, however, were never wanting, for “Margaret” and “Kate” were a part of the corporation and governing body of the institution, and a good dinner was one of the certainties of each day's experience. Never a shadow of a fear of the dyspeptic fiend on Prospect St.!
When we moved we left behind us discomforts many, humiliations many, but pleasures many as well. In the Wadsworth house we had tugged lustily at tough Hebrew roots; we had learned the use of the Greek aorist. There we had been admonished and instructed by our professors in regard to family government. There we laughed, there we prayed, there we together sung hymus of praise. There we together bowed in sorrow, as we bore thence the form of one who loved this Seminary as she was herself loved by all who knew her. Sacred memories, these, of sacred seasons, never to be forgotten!
But when we moved we were more busied with our anticipations. The future was more to us then than the past. How faithfully we superintended the building of this Hall the carpenters will all bear witness. We were anxious to move. Delays were extremely tedious. We came to this new home