From the establishment of the College the work of the literary societies connected with it has supplemented the instruction given in an admirable manner, and has given to those sharing such work an application of principles and a training in methods which the work of the class room cannot provide. The member of a literary society is brought in direct contact with his fellow students, and free from the restraint he always feels when in the presence of an instructor, he is taught to control himself, to measure his ability by the standard of what others can do, and to be always alert, ready alike for defensive or offensive battles. He gains an effectiveness in the use of language which the study of rhetoric cannot give, and a method and self command in speaking which class work in rhetorticals will not impart. Besides this he is trained in the order of business, and is strengthened by the responsibility of making the society work a success. For all these reasons the earnest students have at all times been enlisted in this line of work, and as the institution has grown in size, the interest in the literary societies has increased.
The last decade has been one of unusual prosperity to the College. It had not half passed away before it became evident that the old societies did not furnish sufficient training to their members on account of the large membership. It was therefore thought best that a new society be formed, and on Saturday evening, November 8, 1884, a small body of young men met in the old north corridor and pledged to such an organization. At a second meeting, held November 15th, a constitution was adopted; with the enrollment of sixteen members, and the election of officers, the organization of the HAMILTON LITERARY SOCIETY was completed. It was a small membership to begin with, and there were many difficulties to overcome before the new society could take rank with the older ones, but the men who founded it saw clearly the character of the work that would succeed best, and so well did they do their work that little of it has since been changed.
During the following term the membership increased rapidly, and it was not long till it reached the limit which was placed upon it during the first three years of the society's existence. Its work from the first has been that of a literary society, and the programmes have consisted of declamations, essays, orations, music, debates, and the bi-weekly society paper, the Recorder. Special attention has been given at all times to extemporaneous speaking, and various methods of training have been pursued. At first questions were distributed upon which members were expected to speak; then assignments were made for the duty, the speakers selecting their own topics. But the most valuable training has come in the discussions under the orders of business, where the drill in speaking combines with a training in parliamentary law. The parliamentary battles have always been a favorite practice in the society, and have given it an enviable reputation for thoroughness and accuracy in such work.
Until the fall of 1889 the society met in "Corridor D." At that time a new room was assigned to the Hamilton and Ionian societies, and by their efforts the room has been neatly furnished, and affords a pleasant place of meeting.
The first public entertainment of the society was a lecture by Prof. James H. Canfield, in April, 1886. In February, 1887, it gave its first and only special session, followed in March, 1888, by its first annual exhibition. These annual representations of the society's literary work have always given satisfaction, and rank well among that class of public entertainments.
The growth of the society has not alone been in the increase of numbers, but is manifest in every line of literary effort.
1884-85 - T. Bassler, T. Bassler, G. W. Waters.
1885-86 - E. H. Perry, G. W. Waters, N. E. Lewis.
1886-87 - E. B. Colburn, J. H. Criswell, S. S. Cobb.
1887-88 - A. Walters, A. E. Newman, A. C. Cobb.
1889-89 - F. A. Campbell, E. M. Paddleford, S. I. Borton.
1889-90 - G. J. Van Zile, S. L. Van Blarcom, A. F. Cranston.
1890-91 - B. Skinner, H. B. Gilstrap, H. E Moore.
|W. A. Anderson,||G. V. Johnson,||H. E. Moore,|
|R. J. Brock,||F. M. Linscott,||B. Skinner,|
|E. C. Coburn,||A. E. Martin,||S. L. Van Blarcom,|
|H. B. Gilstrap,||A. Midgley,||F. A. Waugh.|
|C. P. Hartley,||A. D. Rice,||G. W. Wilding|
|I. B. Parker,||W. J. Town,||C. E. Yeoman.|
|C. J. Peterson,||R. L. Wallis,|
|W. S. Pope,||D. F. Wickman,|
|C. Abbott,||R. Laundy,||J. A. Rokes,|
|E. M. Blachly,||T. E. Lyon,||F. H. Smith,|
|W. V. Hester,||G. T. Morrison,||W. E. Smith,|
|C. H. Hutchings,||H. H. Phillips,||W. O. Stover,|
|S. B. Johnson,||J. D. Riddell,||J. Sutton.|
|R. B. Abbott,||A. Jackson,||O. A. Otten,|
|O. C. Axtell,||W. J. Jennings,||J. H. Persinger,|
|G. G. Boardman,||A. Johnson,||W. F. Redenbaugh,|
|J. M. Calhoun,||I. Jones,||J. A. Schiel,|
|G. Doll,||Wm. Joss,||R. Simmons,|
|J. Dougherty,||C. D. McCullough,||T. H. Smythe,|
|H. E. Downing,||D. H. Miller,||W. W. Watson,|
|S. V. Hogbin,||S. Olmstead,||E. Wood,|
[Oration delivered by A. F. Cranston at the Hamilton Annual, 1890.]
Every acre of the world has had some specific character - some sign which marks its unit spirit has surged high and assumed a form of fanaticism, as is shown in the crusades and the religious wars of Europe.
The ancients were distinct from the moderns. Their civilization was of a tangible, material character. At mention of Egypt our mind rises instinctively with the pyramids, and the fertile valley of the Nile, loaded with the spontaneous products of a tropical zone, spreads itself before the senses. At mention of Greece we stand in admiration before the parthenon and build a dream in the acre of Pericles. Carthage, maritime Carthage, her harbors bristled with the spars and masts of a thousand merchant vessels, and, until her magnificence tempted the Roman legions, the Punic basked beneath a luxuriant meridian. Rome, armor clad Rome, with sword and battle-ax, she hewed out the haughtiest republic that has been.
Look at these, they each have shown a rise and fall, a life and a death, yet each is a tragedy in itself.
Since the fall of the Western Roman Empire, three ages in succession have unfolded themselves - the ages of religion, reform and reason. We are now living in the age of reason or science. What a grand one it is - "The sum total of all the past."
Science has given to the modern mind a depth of penetration, a keenness of observation, and an accuracy in experiment which has never before been known. What has it done for civilization? In the sixteenth century Copernicus proved the falsity of the Ptolemaic theory of the heavens. In the seventeenth century Gallileo made his renowned discoveries among the stars. Harvey discovered the circulation of the blood. Bacon substituted the inductive for the deductive system of philosophy. Kepler founded mathematical astronomy, and Newton discovered the laws of universal gravitation. In the eighteenth century Franklin applied electricity to the arts and drew the lightning from the sky. Linneas classified plants and laid the foundation for modern botany. Priestly discovered oxygen, and Herchel improved the telescope.
Now what does this mean? It means that progress has at last wheeled into the right path - a path which man has been blindly seeking since he first began to think. It means that lightning is a phenomenon of electricity and not the wrath of angry gods; that the sun is the centre of revolution of planets and stars, and that our earth is but a dust-mote glittering in his rays; that the abolition of slavery is due to the application of steam to machinery; that energy is convertible into heat, light and electricity; that man thinks more and knows less, earns more and works less, loves more and hates less, worships more and prays less than in any other age of the world.
The millennium may never be reached - science may never be able to prove or disprove the existence of matter, to affirm or deny the freedom of the will, to analyze material and mental energy, motion, sensation and volition, but it has deduced laws which, if obeyed, will ameliorate man's condition upon this earth.
Some have charged scientists with fallacious reasoning and illegitimate applications to religion. Others have declared science a species of heresy. This is ridiculous and a mere presumption of ignorance. Who knows better than a scientist what truth is and what is its value? There is no haughty pride, nor pompous declamation, nor dogmatic omniscience about the true scientist. He is meek in heart and humble in spirit. He is the champion of truth and the sleuth bound of error. Science ever seeks to maintain the "accurate," and throws around philosophy the limits of the known. Without science, religion is apt to run into fanaticism and superstition.
Scientific men are apt to be moral, for their ambition ever reaches for the true, and he who will not accept a logical conclusion, be it in harmony or not with supposed inspiration, is blind - hopelessly blind.
There are irreligious men in every church and very religious men in no church.
There is a scientific religion that is neither agnostic nor dogmatic, there is a scientific morality that is neither altruism nor egotism. The church should bring religion down from the imperial realms of the infinite, about which we know nothing, into the kingdom of the finite, about which we may learn something.
Then why this casuistry about original sin and redemption, about primeval life in the garden of Eden: it seems but the fairy frost work of fancy. Have a religion that drops a penny into the hand of the beggar, that strolls in the fields in summer, that glides over snow and ice in winter.
The boundless fields of sky, the sun, flying meteors, the eternal march of the seasons - dark forests full of wierd voices; volcanoes, caves and cataracts, glaciers slipping down the mountain, fountains springing up in deserts, rivers running under ground, life surging along the streets of cities, death sleeping in the graveyard - these are for your study and your admiration - among these you must build your heaven or your hell.
Tom & Carolyn Ward