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OF COLLEGE DAYS
At Dickinson College.
In almost every relationship, life at College came to me as a novelty. It necessitated more or less changed ranges of thought and ways of living. I had never before been separated from direct parental care and the companionship of solicitous relatives and long familiar friends, except for part of one year. In my thirteenth year, because of prolonged absence of my parents from their home, I was put in charge of the Moravian School at Lititz, Pennsylvania. But I was there cared for as a member of a family. At College, however, I became immediately personally free, and personally responsible, in the midst of wholly unfamiliar surroundings. I was one among hundreds of other boys, strangers thitherto, gathered from many widely separated parts of the country; reared under many kinds. of social, intellectual and religious influences; nearly all, like myself, separated for the first time from their homes, and compelled to meet and to adjust themselves to a novel environment.
Almost inevitably, under these circumstances, important changes in one's mental and social manner of living would be wrought. But, so far as my religious experiences were concerned nothing of radical moment occurred. Carlisle community was much like that of Chambersburg,
except as affected socially by the group of United States Army officers stationed at "The Barracks," in the town's suburbs. The College was conducted under strictly Orthodox, though not Calvinistic, religious principles; and, practically, all the boys had come from homes which were, at least, associated with Christianity in some Orthodox form.
a. Some Pertinent Fxperiences at Dickinson-The most marked personal change, pertinent to these "Memories," because of my new surroundings, was a gradual lapse from the highly exalted spiritual mood with which I had come away from home. At no time, during the two years I was at Dickinson, did I lose sense of having entered College "to study for the ministry." But the ministry, ere long, seemed to be very far away. The normal life of boyhood was exhuberant around me, and it naturally found personal response in my daily intercourse with many new made friends. I became a member of a Greek letter fraternity whose festivals, while innocent, or proper enough socially, were not just what they ought to be, measured by the standards of "piety" I had brought with me from my home and my home-church. I became also an active, energetic member of the Union Philosophical Society, one of the two literary fellowships which comprehended on their rolls the students of the College. My general reading, for the first time, went largly into fiction. I had special and most enjoyable sessions with Fenimore Cooper, Washington Irving, and Captain Marryat.
In the autumn of 1860, a group of students, of which I was one, indulged in a festival trip to Harrisburg, and took part in a welcome reception to the Prince of Wales, afterwards the British King, Edward VII., then on tour in
America. The Prince seemed to be a boy very much like ourselves; rather diffident, possibly shy; but our unanimous judgment was that we liked him.
At the end of the following February, we indulged in a like "spree" to see Abraham Lincoln, who was to make a stop at the State Capital on the way to his inauguration as President of the National Union. We were able to get a good sight of him, and I was quite near to him; but he was, evidently, kept well surrounded by a group of friends.
Throughout the second Dickinson year, I thought far more of the coming sectional struggle among the States of our Union than of any thing else; and when the Civil War was actually threatened, I became a member and an officer in a company of student-militia, organized that we might be made familiar with company drill and the manual of arms.
The increasing drift of the Nation towards its mighty struggle so impressed and agitated me, that when, after the attack upon Fort Sumter, the President called for 75,000 volunteers for the defence of the Union, I immediately enlisted in a company forming at Carlisle. That attempt to be a soldier, however, lasted but for a few hours. My father, in response to a telegraphic announcement of my enlistment, sent the answer, "You must not go. Your Mother," and himself appeared in Carlisle that afternoon. He cancelled my enrollment at once, and took me back with him to Chambersburg, a thoroughly humiliated youth, far from being in a religious state of mind.
Very soon my career as a student at Dickinson College was closed, and a new period in Collegiate education was begun elsewhere.
I have very few letters written while I was at Dickinson. But looking back over this initial stage of my College