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Diary of Thomas McClelland April-June 1862

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April 1862

     Wednesday 2nd-- This morning prayers closed the term. Examinations over and nothing to do. Of the Sophomores not a few were conditioned. Here is the immortal list; Bascom, Davis, May, McClelland (T.S.), and Wright, in Navigation and Spherical Trigonometry, and Hayden in History. Every devil in the class, except Rood, were cooly informed that they must study and make up their deficiencies during vacation. Rood and Hayden became miffed and demanded their passports--i.e. letters of introduction to the Faculty of Michigan State University. These President Chapin refused to give until he had consulted, by letter, with their parents.
     Wendell Phillips105 arrived in good season and took up his quarters at the Bushnell House. At 7 1/2 o'clock, we went up to the church. There was a big audience, yet the house was not crowded. Mr. Phillips spoke an hour and three quarters. Except when some thing was said to bring out the cheers, the audience were in as quiet a state as I ever saw one. Everybody seemed to agree in everything the speaker said.
     The committee accompanied Mr. Phillips to his Hotel and spent some time in conversation with him. Before leaving I went into the bar room to ascertain at what time the cars left Beloit for Rockford and there sat Merriman of the Junior class waiting to be introduced to the great man! Fudge! Now some persons will run and make asses of themselves in order to shake hands with notable men. Knowing that there was a meeting of the Betas, I feared erriman would find out something 2 induce him to wait until morning. He left apparently satisfied. The meeting at Winslow's room, after the lecture, was sociable.

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     Thursday 3rd-- Called with Mr. Phillips, on President Chapin this morning. Visited the Cabinet, Library, & c.
Rood and Hayden left Beloit today never to return in the capacity of students. What a diminutive class we will have next term! I have done some tall loafing today.

     Wednesday 9th-- Vacation half gone. News of a great Federal Victory at Pittsburgh landing106 in Tennessee near the Mississippi line. The Confederate troops under Sen. Beauregarde and the Federals under Buell and Grant. Also the surrender of Island No. 10, and the attack of the army under McClellan, on Yorktown, defended by Gen. Magrader107 [sic: Magruder] with from 30,000 to 50,000 men. The Chicago Tribune also contains, in full, Senator Trumbull108's great speech on the Confiscation Bill.
     Received an Express package from Dock this evening containing ten dollars. Received a letter from Hastings. He approves of the plan of engaging Parson Brownlow.
     Weather cold and damp.

     Friday 11th-- I have been at work, to-day. At 6 o'clock this morning I pitched into a wood pile in the cellar with saw and ax, and with some assistence from Alley completed the job by 10 1/2 o'clock a.m. Rode out and took dinner with Morgan. This afternoon about forty women visited the Library, Cabinet, + c + c. There was, in one gang, the two Misses Thayer, and a Miss. [blank] by thunder! I have forgotten the name. in the other crowd were Mrs. Robinson, and two Misses. One was a mighty old Miss. the other was a mighty soft Miss. Two and one is three and one is four and two are six.
     Had I been accustomed to see women I should not have started off with such a hyperbole.
     It blows a gale to-night. Winslow has gone up to see Kitty Kendall, he will lodge with me to-night and go home in the morning. I must finish Senator Trumbull's speech on the Confiscation Bill.

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     Wednesday 16th-- The first day of school and my last day for doing nothing. Most all the college students were in their seats at prayers this evening. After supper Hastings, Davis, and I were strolling down towards the C & G Union R.R. Depot when lo! were the heroes Rood and Hayden returning to their old quarters. On Thursday, April 3, they left Beloit declaring that they never would come back here to school. They had quite a time with the Faculty and in fact went away at loggerheads with that body. O spunky boys! There was no reason for the boys leaving. Hayden was conditioned on History, + for this he took the course he did. Rood had no provocation. Their trip to the State University of Michigan cost them about Twenty--five dollars each. The loss of this much money and their failure to pass the examinations at Ann Arbor cooled the young bucks down. I think they will not trouble the faculty anymore.

     Saturday 19th-- Went into the Boarding club this evening.

     Monday 21st-- Left the club and took to boarding myself again.

     Friday 25th-- I have just finished the composition for Prof. Blaisdell, which I promised last term. It is a big load off my mind. Received letters from Mother and Bob, by the mail. They did not recognize my photograph which I sent home some time ago. I could not believe that I had changed in personal appearance so much in four years.
     This has been a beautiful day. Our nights are still cool. I have not crammed any for biennial yet. I shall begin to-morrow.

May 1862

     Saturday 17th-- The only noticeable occurences of this week was my trip to Chicago to hear the Hon. Edward Everett109 speak. At 11 o'clock on Wednesday Hastings and I left on the Galena cars for the western metropolis. We reached Chicago at 3 o'clock. After dusting ourselves at the Sherman house we wended our way to No 76 Dearborn St, the office of G.W. Russell, Chairman of the Lecture Committee, of Young Men's Association. Here we met Mr. Russell who informed us that Everett had been detained at Pittsburgh on account of some accident happening to the R.R. and could not speak in Chicago until Thursday evening. The only alternative left us was to spend our time as profitably as possible. So after arranging with Russell to call on Everett at the Fremont next morning, we left and took a stroll to the Custom House. After tea we purchased tickets for McVicar's Theatre. The play was entitled "The Lion of St. Mark." I freely confess that I never was so badly sold in my life. With one or two exceptions I could not understand what the actors were talking about. Mr. Couldock, as Orceola, was an old fool. His words were so chawed and mangled that it was an impossibility to understand him, and yet he was the lion of the play. So much for the Theatre. At 12 o'clock we found ourselves safely esconsed in Nos. 180 & 184 Sherman House, where we did some [word blacked out] sleeping.
     Next morning---Thursday---at 9 o'clock we were introduced to Mr. Everett by Mr. Russell. When we made known our business, he emphatically refused to come to Beloit to speak either at present or on Commencement Day. We left somewhat downhearted at the refusal but before night we had some assurence that he would make it convenient to speak in Beloit in about three weeks, but up to this time Mr. Russell has not confirmed the engagement.
     After we left the Sherman House our excursion commenced. First a visit to the Library and reading rooms of the Young Men's Association. Then a walk to Camp Douglas110 a distance of three miles. We made no application to get inside the camp for the reason that we apprehended nothing but a refusal. A few steps more brought us to the Lake shore at the side of Douglas' grave. The grave is a very plain one. It stands in a clear spot about thirty or forty yards from the beach. I did not feel like as if I had been at the side of a Clay's or Webster's or Washington's grave. Douglas was a groveling politician. He would do anything to gain popular applause. We concluded to take a street car back. 12 1/2 P.M. found us at our hotel and ready for our dinner.
     In the afternoon we visited the jail, Court of Chancery, U.S. Court, Office of Evening Post, and all the principle streets and business places.
     After tea we made our way to Bryan's Hall, and were just in time to secure good seats. For three quarters of an hour after we took our seats the crowd kept pouring in. At 8 o'clock the hall was decently crowded and the speaker appeared and was introduced to the audience. For one hour and a half he held the house in wrapt attention. He spoke on the "origine and causes of the war." I think the subject matter was no better than that of Wendell Phillips, but the style of oratory was the most refined I ever saw. It was plain to be seen that every jesture, movement, position, inflection, & c, had been carefully studied by the orator. Indeed the whole oration was a perfect school boy performance. Yet I never sat for an hour and a half so charmed with a public speech. After the lecture we returned to our hotel to await the arrival of Mr. Russell, who was to give us some more information in relation to whether Everett would come to Beloit or not. Solomon Sturgis111 was in the parlor and afforded some amusement by his loud and eccentric talk. Sturgis is one of the richest men in Chicago. Russell soon came and informed us that he had come to no definite understanding with Everett, but promised to write as soon as he did. Friday morning we paid our bills at the Hotel and made our way to the North Western R.R. Depot. We left at a few minutes before ten. On board were Drs. Taggart and Morgan, B.E. Hale, Mr. Jas. Farr. Jr., O.M. General Wadsworth, Hastings and myself all for Beloit. Taggart and Morgan were just returning from Corinth Miss. They had two "contrabands112" under their care. One man and one woman. They were on a tour north to get a snuff of free air. They are safe after reaching Beloit. One o'clock found us at the Racine Depot, pretty well tired out. I came up to Middle College and the first man I met was my old friend Dr. ______. He is on a visit to Beloit.
     We were gone two days and two nights. Total expences Eleven dollars each. This was a mighty dear lecture to me, but if I had not heard Edward Everett now I never should have heard him.

     Saturday 24th-- Strange things happen sometimes. Truth is stranger than fiction. Old sayings. While I was gone to Chicago last week, Professor Blaisdell announced to the Sophomore class that he designed offering a prize of ten dollars to the best out of four speakers from the class, who would select pieces and speak them in Public Exhibition at the close of the Term. When I returned Rood came to me and requested that I should act in the capacity of one of the speakers. I immediately told him that I would do no such a thing. He made some feeble efforts at insisting and, as I thought at the time, in good faith. During the earlier part of this week a meeting of the class was called in Bascom's room to make the final arrangements for the speakers for the exhibition. The matter was talked over by Rood, Hayden, Bascom, and May, but no motion was made. Several times all of these persons expressed a wish that McClelland should speak out in no very urging manner. I still adhered to my former decision, and explained why I did not wish to speak. The meeting was continued for some time and for some reason neither Davis, Wright nor myself made a motion requesting the above quartette to accept the positions which they desired, and at length a motion to leave the matter with Prof. Blaisdell. Next morning after recitation the matter was brought up.

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I left the room. I understood the Professor to say before I went out that he wanted to have nothing to do with the appointments. The whole affair has been divulged and I am the Dupe of the class. Davis and Wright tells the same good story. Immediately after the Professor made the proposal to the class, they say, the four (Rood, Hayden, May, and Bascom,) held a caucus, elected themselves the immortal four speakers---contestants for the prize---returned and told Blaisdell the result. These two also say that when I left the room on the morning, they requested Blaisdell to make the appointments, the Professor said he was satisfied with the arrangements the four had made the week before.
     This strange development opened my "lights" to a striking degree. The whole farce lay before me in the greatest clearness.
     The joke is splendid, but it places not only the four Sophs but also Prof. Blaisdell in a position which I am unable to understand. I cannot understand why Blaisdell made the proposition to part of the class only, while he regarded it a class affair. I can only see in the conduct of Rood and his three accomplices an act of underhanded duplicity. After they had appointed themselves the speakers they had the effroutery to ask me to take part in the exhibition, when it is evident they wanted the entire matter to themselves. In their course of action they placed themselves in a very low scale. Had they acted honorably in the matter they would not only have obtained the places they desired, but also have retained a position of respect in the estimation of everyone who may know of the circumstance. I certainly should have considered it no affront if they had never said a word about the offer made by Prof. Blaisdell but had gone ahead independently. I would not have noticed it if Prof. Blaisdell had appointed them on the exhibition, without consulting the will of any person. But for them to patch up the thing as they wanted it and then betray themselves and make a dupe of me, and be caught in the act. I think is a fair sample of non compos.

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     Sunday 25th-- Attended the lecture of Jules De Launay [sic]113 on the Catacombs at Rome. The lecture was very good. It was illustrated with many drawings, inscriptions, + c. The Lecturer stated that six millions persons were buried in these underground passages during the earlier part of the Christian era. His lecture was divided into three heads. 1st What were the Catacombs? 2nd Their use. 3rd The inscriptions found on the tombs. He stated that Rome was built on an extinct volcano and that between fifty and seventy-five feet below the surface were three tiers of excavations. These excavations were made for the purpose of getting a peculiar sand, which was thrown up by the volcano, and which was used in Rome for building purposes. This sand was of such quality that water could not penetrate it consequently the passages were perfectly dry. The Thames Tunnel114, England is built of this same material. The passages were two feet wide and eight feet high. It has been computed that the entire length of the passages is over nine hundred miles. There are six public entrances and over six hundred private entrances to the catacombs.
     During the time of the persecutions of the Christians at Rome the catacombs served as a place of refuge from the brutality of Nero and his tyranical successors. In these subterranean chambers for about three hundred years the early christians made their homes and graves. When safety would allow they would ascend to the city but when danger threatened they descended into their safe retreat. During the reign of Nero Christians by the hundred were thrown into the Coliceum and torn to pieces by lions, panthers, wolves, and other wild animals, amid the shouts of the Roman populace. The bones of these martyrs were gathered up and buried in the tombs of the catacombs.
     The tombs of those Martyrs can be seen to this day with their inscriptions. What is most remarkable on none of these tombs can be found the word "died." It is he or she "sleeps."
     Mr. De Launay [sic] Lectures in the Presbyterian church to-morrow night. Subject Pompeii and Herculaneum.

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     Tuesday 27th-- Heard the veritable "Artemas Ward" Chas. F. Browne115, to-night. His subject was "Babes in the Wood." The title had nothing to do with the lecture except once in a while the Lecturer thought fit to mention the subject. He talked about everything and nothing in particular. He created a good deal of merriment.

June 1862

     Monday 2nd-- I was not a little surprised this evening at being hailed, when coming out from prayers, by J.A. Johnson, my teacher of Bloomington. Johnson is much fleshier than he was then. I did not recognize him. He was present at our Greek recitation.

     Tuesday 3rd-- Received a letter from the Superintendant of Public Schools, Peoria, Ill. He writes me that there will be several vacancies next year and that my claim will be duely regarded if I make application. He states that one of their teachers receives one thousand dolls. a year, one seven hundred and the remainder eight hundred dolls. per annum. The schools are all graded.

     Saturday 7th-- Last night the Hon. Edward Everett delivered his lecture on the war before the Archaean Union. I think he did not do so well as he did in Chicago. Two reasons may account for this. First his audience was not so large, and secondly the house was poorly lighted so that the speaker could not see his hearers nor his hearers him. Our receipts for tickets amounted to one hundred and thirty four dollars. We had quite a respectable audience. To-day Mr. Everett visited our college. He dined with President Chapin.
     Completed the review of Herodotus this evening. J.A. Johnson called on me this forenoon. He is even more egotistic than he was five years ago, and a great deal "softer."

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     Tuesday 10-- Professor Blaisdell announced the order of our Biennial Examination this morning.

Saturday June 21st Tuesday June 24th Thursday June 26th
     Homer
     Herodotus
     Greek Prose
     Greek History

     Livy
     Latin Prose

 

     Freshman Horace

     Algebra
     Geometry
     Physiology
   
Saturday June 28th Tuesday July 1st Thursday July 3rd
     Memorabilia
     Thucydides
     Prometheus
     Greek Prose
     Trigonometry
     Navigation
     Calculus
     Greek Testament
     Day's Rhetoric
     Theremius    "
     English Literature
     Cicero

Saturday July 5th

Sophomore Horace, Roman Hist. and Student's Gibbon. The above programme indicates something to do. Seven days. Three hours each day will be devoted to examinations.

     Wednesday 11th--- Midnight. The moon is totally eclipsed. She entered the earth's shade about an hour ago. Weather warm. Lightning in the North. Went in swimming this evening for the first time since summer before last. It made me very tired to swim, being unaccustomed to trying the art.
     Read some in Roman history also part of Henry Winter Davis' speech before Mercantile Libraray Association, Brooklyn, N.Y. delivered December 26" 1861. So far as I read Davis was severe on the Administration for assuming such unconstitutional prerogatives as to suspend the act of habeas corpus and other seemingly unwarranted acts. No special war news to-day.

     Thursday 12th-- Received an encouraging letter from the School Superintendent of Ottawa to-day. He says there are a hundred teachers in Ottawa and they only want nineteen. I think they must make teachers out of wood and stone, they are so plenty. I apprehended the school system of Ottawa is not of a very high character.
     There is appearance of a big rain to-night. It has been a very sultry day.
     It seems that Gen. Freemont has whipped the Rebel Jackson.

     Tuesday 17th-- A night spent in revelry. If I am forgiven for attending the Congregational Strawberry Festival to-night I will promise not to be seen in another in Beloit. After prayers I accepted an invitation from my friend Winslow to take tea with him. At Winslow's, I met Hastings. After tea Morgan came in and soon left with Hastings. About 10 o'clock Winslow and I concluded to go into the Strawberry Festival. The main characteristics of the occasion were white headed girls, Preps, and College Professors. Before passing half way through the hall I was satisfied and returned. On reaching the street I pitched my ticket into a groggery and made tracks for Middle College. Just as I was passing Matterman's residence Winslow hailed me. We then took a stroll through the streets and again stepped into the hall. Many of the people had left. Morgan and Hastings were peculiarly jovial. Their actions indicated that they had been indul...

Wednesday morning: Before finishing the sentence of accusing Hastings and Morgan of being drunk, Winslow knocked on my door and announced the woeful truth that the boys were raising Ned generally at the hall. I left my writing and returned with Winslow. The hall was nearly deserted. On a sofa Hastings was seated with Miss. Kendall talking with a great many gestures and actions inbecoming a sane man. Morgan was knocking around over the room, knocking everything he came to. A few minutes served to get him in the street, into his buggy, and on his way home. Before we reached Dr. Morgan's I became fully sensible of the fact that Morgan, at least, was not only not sober, but most gloriously drunk. After putting up his horse for him and getting him into his door yard. I returned to Middle College. The wee, wee hour of two only found me in bed. The night would have been better spent in reading Gibbon for examinations yet I trust I learned some good practical lessons. Had I been satisfied that the boys were in reality intoxicated I could at least, in the early part of the evening, have made an attempt to get them to go home and saved them from the remarks of every person in the hall.

 

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Biennial

     Saturday 21st-- First session of Biennial, In Homer book II, lines 546-556. Herodotus. section 132 first ten lines. Greek history, five questions, vis Lycurgus and legislation; date and description of the battle of Salamis: What was the confederacy of Delos: date and circumstances of Pericles' death: How did the Peloponesian war end. The examination was pretty trying. I made some mistakes. In Greek prose we had two sentences.
     Received a letter from Dock this afternoon. He is acting in the capacity of clerk to Captain Vincent, Dixie Guardes, Camp Douglas, Chicago. I have spent most of this afternoon in bed. I can't say that I feel first rate.

     Tuesday 24th-- Second session of Biennial Examinations. Livy Liber I cap. XXV at the close from Janaque, aequato Marte + c to the end of the section, also Liber XXI cap XV from Octavo mense, + c. to the end of the section. In Horace the XXI Ode of the first book. "In Dianam et Apollionem." (Latin). Latin Prose finished the programme. I think I did very well in Livy. I translated the Ode in Horace miserably. I was dissatisfied with Horace when I first went over it. I believed then and still believe that it was a deplorable waste of time studying the stuff. I wonder that men of education persist in making use of Horace as a textbook. The language is not learned so readily as from Livy or Caesar or Cicero or Tacitus. While he teaches a few moral lessons, he introduces his readers into scenes of licentiousness and debauchery. It is only when Horace is put into the students hands that he is compelled to seek aid from translations. I regard the study of Horace a waste of time, and an injury to any who wish to make themselves in any degree proficient in Latin--at least to study it in the early part of his course when not well acquainted with the language.

     Thursday 26th-- Third session of Biennial examinations. Algebra, Geometry, and Physiology. The bed would have been a more appropriate place for me. I may have skinned116 through. I could not have done more.

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     Saturday 28th-- Fourth Session Biennial examinations. Memorabilia. Book IV. Chapter II. Section V. _________ (Greek) Thucydides. "Ancient condition of Hellas" in Felton page 55. 11-20 lines. Prometheus. "Oceanus" lines 284-292.
     The first two were tolerable easy. Prometheus was hard. He gave the Juniors a regular piece of Iambic. I do not see why we were taken into this barbarous measure.
     Taking medicine and admonitions, from Dr. Taggart, not to study, daily.

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