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REUNION OF THE YOUNG LADIES' HIGH SCHOOL, FEBRUARY 5TH, 1858.
It was to celebrate this retirement of Mr. Kingsbury from the charge of the school, that the ladies' both matrons and maidens-who had been his pupils, assembled on that day, with their friends, in the Chapel of the University.
The occasion, though private in its nature, brought together a considerable company of the leading citizens of Providence, among whom we may mention the Governor of the State, the Mayor of the City, the President and several of the Professors of the University, and several clergymen of different denominations. President Wayland occupied the chair, and Rev. Dr. Swain commenced the exercises with a prayer, after which the following lines, written by a recent member of the school, were sung by the assembly to the tune of Old Hundred:
"A grateful band we come to-day,
Here are the friends we loved of yore,
Gone from us now those sunny hours,
Passed like the mist from off the hill,
Yet memory fond recalls them still.
Within a generation's span,
The union ends which then began;
Above, in heaven, oh, may there be,
Dr. Wayland then arose, and after a brief explanation of the origin and import of the scene before him, made in substance the following address:
This occasion sufficiently explains itself, yet I cannot refrain from offering a few additional words by way of personal testimony. To me this gathering possesses a peculiar interest, for I have known this institution from its commencement, and have observed its progress to the present hour. It arose, as the sun frequently arises on the morning of a most brilliant day, amidst clouds and mist. The greater part of our citizens at that time looked at the attempt as very public spirited, but very chimerical. Our population was but about one-third of its present number. It was seen that such schools as we needed could be sustained in Boston, New York and Philadelphia, but very few believed that we could sustain one in Providence. Mr. Kingsbury thought differently. He knew us better than we knew ourselves. He commenced his school in the full belief that any thing which deserves success, is as sure to succeed in
Providence as anywhere in New England. The result justified his anticipations. His school was immediately filled, and for thirty years without any solicitation, without even an advertisement, it has always been full to overflowing. At many times the applicants waiting for admission were numerous enough to have established another such school. And this much has been achieved without pandering, for a moment, to the ephemeral fancies of the day, without an effort to please men or women, mothers or daughters, except by the faithful, able and impartial discharge of every duty. Mr. Kingsbury determined to have a ladies' school which should be an honor to Providence, or he would have none at all. He has realized his idea, and the results are spread before the world. There is hardly a family amongst us, which, in some of its branches, does not acknowledge with gratitude the benefit of his instructions and personal inAluence. You can hardly collect a company of intelligent young ladies in any part of this city, without finding that a large portion of them, I was going to say the most intelligent portion of them, were the pupils of this school. But its influence has not ended here. From almost every portion of our country, young ladies have resorted hither for instruction, and of those who were to the manor born, a large number have been allured away from us to become stars of the first magnitude in almost every city in the land. The mother of the Gracchi pointed to her sons as her jewels; but I know no man among us who is so rich in this sort of jewelry as Mr. Kingsbury. Five hundred of his pupils look upon him with gratitude and veneration, and at this very moment are returning thanks to the man whose whole life has been so successfully devoted to labors for their intellectual and moral improvement.
But I may not stop here. Though you, ladies, have had so much, you have not had all of John Kingsbury. While he has thus labored for you, there has hardly been a benevolent effort undertaken in this city, which has not felt the benefit of his wise and disinterested efficiency. Whether a university was to be endowed, or a church to be established, or an association to be lifted out of difficulties, or a society of young men to be aided and directed in their labors to promote the cause of Christ, John Kingsbury was the man to do it; and now before you had fairly let him go, the State has seized upon him, to carry forward the cause of education, and raise the schools of Rhode Island to a point of eminence not yet attained by any similar institutions in our land. Nihil tetigit quod non ornavit-quod non ædificavit. Such has been and is your honored instruc tor, and we come here to unite with you to-day to testify to the appreciation in which he is held by all good men in the city of Providence.
Mr. Kingsbury, being called upon by President Wayland, to give an account of the school, then narrated its history, and stated the principles on which it had been conducted, in the following interesting address:
The task which I now assume, in giving the history of a school that has rested entirely on a single individual, and that individual myself, is one of extreme difficulty. The "quorum pars magna fui," must be too prominent not to expose me to censure. Yet relying on your kindness,
I know of no other way but to proceed and use that little, but offensive word, which may subject me to the charge of egotism.
Just thirty-two years ago, I was sitting one evening in yonder college building, preparing for a morning recitation. A rap at the door, was followed by the entrance of a gentleman then well known in this community, and still held in grateful remembrance by all who know how much he did to give a healthful impulse to the cause of popular education in this city. That gentleman was the late Mr. G. A. Dewitt. He came to propose that I should become an associate principal with him in the instruction of the Providence High School-an institution which he had organized and which shared largely in the esteem of the public. The proposition was accepted; and on the first day of April 1826, just five months before I was graduated at Brown University, I entered upon the duties of this engagement. In this school, which was conducted on the monitorial system and which became very large, I remained nearly two years. During this period numerous intimations were made to me that a smaller and more select school for young ladies, was very much needed. Propositions were made to me to commence such an one. But as a separate school could not be established, without injuring the gentleman with whom I was associated, it was decided to make a separate department in the High School exclusively for young ladies, and hence the name "Young Ladies' High School." This name, it should be remembered, was not then used to designate the highest grade of Public Schools. Such was the origin of the school, whose thirtieth anniversary we celebrate to-day.
In the circular which was printed to announce the opening of this department of the High School-the only advertisement of any kind ever sent forth to secure public attention—the following language was used to express the leading idea: "Our object in the establishment of this department, is, to afford young ladies such facilities for education, that they will be under less necessity of spending abroad the most important period of their lives; a period in which a mother's judicious care is so necessary to the formation of character. In this undertaking, we look for support only among those, who wish their daughters to acquire a thorough education. No attempt will be made to gain the approbation of such as would prefer showy and superficial accomplishments, to a well regulated mind.”
It is hardly necessary to add that the enterprise was regarded as somewhat chimerical, and that many were ready to predict that it would end in failure. How well it has succeeded, it is not for me to say. It is quite certain, that whatever measure of success may seem to others to have been secured, my own expectations and hopes have never been realized. No one knows so well as myself, what have been the defects of the school. Indeed every successive day has caused them to be more clearly revealed Yet in justice to myself, I may say that I have struggled constantly to remedy these deficiencies; and so far as they have remained to this hour, it has been owing rather to the want of ability on my part, than to the want of an intense desire to remove them. I am happy to believe that it is the just appreciation of this desire and effort to make a No. 13.-VOL. V., No. 1.]—2.
good school, which has resulted in the continued favor of this community to the present time.
The number of scholars was at first limited to thirty-six; but the accommodations allowing it, the number was soon increased to forty. Three more were added after the erection of the present building, and fortythree has been the fixed number ever since. No pressure of circumstances has ever induced me to add a single one beyond the prescribed number, except when by some mistake or misapprehension a member of the school was upon the point of being excluded. In such a case, the individual has been received as a supernumerary and gratuitous scholar. At the end of six months, the complement of scholars was full. Since this period, there has always been a list of applications in advance of the full number, varying from twenty to sixty. When I decided to bring my connection with the school to a close, there were thirty-two names on this list. The admissions for the whole period have been five hundred and fifty-seven. Eighty of these have died, of whom forty were married. Two hundred and eighty-two have been married; consequently two hundred and seventy-five remain single. It should be added, however, to prevent mistake, that a large part of these have scarcely yet reached a mature age. Eighty-one of the whole number have been named Mary, sixty-one Sarah or Sally, and fifty-one Elizabeth or Eliza.
For the last ten years I have been instructing the second generation. No circumstance is more grateful to me than the fact that almost every individual of this class, old enough and sufficiently near to attend school, has become or has sought to become a member of the school. By no persons has there been more regret expressed at my withdrawal from the office of instructor, than by my former scholars who wish to commit their daughters to my care.
To those who are familiar with public sentiment in regard to education now, but who know-except as a matter of history-little of the change which has taken place during the last thirty years, the establishment and successful operation of a school like this, may seem a very small affair. Could we, however, place them at the beginning of this series of years and with them trace all the circumstances adverse to success, it would be much easier to make that impression which is so necessary to a perfect understanding of the subject. Allow me to give two or three illustrations for this purpose. At that period the range of studies in female education was very limited in comparison with that of the present. In addition to the elementary branches, a little of History, a smattering of French, and a few lessons in painting or embroidery, were thought to be sufficient for the education of girls. The study of the Latin Language, of Algebra, of Geometry, and of the higher English branches, was introduced into few schools out of the city of Boston, and it was thought visionary to attempt the study of them here. In fact it was hardly possible to escape ridicule in making the experiment. Even the boys in the street were sometimes heard to say in derision, "there goes the man who is teaching the girls to learn Latin." I need not say how great a change