ON THE afternoon of the thirteenth of September the School had been formally opened with a service at Church; the luncheon, with its "ice-cream," was past; and the visitors gone. Southborough must have looked very much as it has looked on so many autumn afternoons that we all remember, except that the trees were much smaller, and the town roads rough and almost untravelled. Three or four boys-the rest of the twelve enrolled had not yet come --- sat down on the steps of the piazza and began to get acquainted. For us there is nothing behind these boys: they were the first St. Markers; but instead of wondering whether any prophetic vision came to them, we shall at once find that a prophetic vision comes to us. Almost the first thing they did in the next few days was to discover the country: two of them followed the brook until they came to the bridge which crossed it in Mr. Burnett's grounds, and chose that spot as a good one to bathe in. They hastily disrobed and had a fine time in the water, much to the astonishment and amusement of the housemaids. They were duly reprimanded by the Headmaster when he heard of it.
The long walks through the woods, where camps were sometimes made and meals occasionally cooked, at once became a regular amusement, and led to the squirrel-hunting and small game trapping about which we hear so much later. The best apple and chestnut trees were located, with but small protest from the good-natured farmers. But the principal school sport, baseball, was started immediately in the spring of the first year, and has continued uninterruptedly ever since, being played in the fall also until football very gradually took its place. The last fall game of baseball was played in 1883. The color of the school nines was magenta, and the uniforms consisted of light grey shirts for the first nine and a darker grey for the second, each having a monogram on the front in color, and caps to match. These uniforms were put on only for games with outside nines, of which there were usually three or four a season. The foul flags were triangles of magenta silk fringed with gold, and were mounted on black walnut sticks with brass tops. The great game of the season was with the Harvard Freshmen, and the Framingham nine was another interesting opponent. Gloves and masks were unknown; indeed, for some time after the introduction of the gloves their use seemed to savor of effeminacy, and many a boy preferred to suffer from stone-bruises as before. The mask was our own invention, and as far as we know was used for the first time in America on our own field.(31)
During the year 1866-67 some of the older boys brought back guns, with which they shot many birds and small animals. This brought about the use of pistols among the younger boys, and shooting at a mark in the woods; and some minor injuries received in this dangerous pastime soon drew down the ban for all time on the use of firearms at St. Mark's.(32)
Parker Pond, hardly a quarter of a mile long and barely wide enough to permit the turning of a six-oared shell, offered little facility for boating and rowing. Originally a four-oared sailing dory, belonging to Dr. Burnett, was at the boys' disposal whenever they asked for it---which they often omitted to do---and some years later a double-oared wherry appeared, with which time-races were possible. "One day, however," writes Edward Nevins Burke, '71, "we received a challenge from the boat club of Framingham,(33) for a four-oared race on the Framingham pond; and Mr. James R. Soley, one of our tutors, who was afterwards Professor at the U. S. Naval Academy, took charge. He selected me, Harry J. Train, and (I think) Solomon H. Howe, with himself, to uphold the honor of the school. We went into training at once, but my only recollection of that was that we had a table by ourselves (which I could not see differed much from that of the rest of the School in food), and principally a run of two miles at half-past eight at night, just before we went to bed. We started from the main road in front of the school and ran as far as the bridge which crosses the railroad tracks on the Marlborough road, and back again. This continued for about two weeks before the race. We practiced in our boat on the little pond each day, and I think we also had one spin over the course at Framingham the day before the race. Mr. Soley was stroke. I came next, Howe next, and Train, being the lightest, was bow, and was supposed to steer with his foot through a lever attached by wires to the rudder. The school all came down by train to see our efforts; and at the appointed time we were started. The course was about a mile up, and then a turn, and down to the starting-point. We held our opponents quite well to the stake, when they turned just in front; and then began the real struggle. The school cheered us, as was natural, and that seemed to excite Mr. Soley; for after calling on us, he gave a mighty stroke which nearly threw the boat off the course, and ---well, we came in about two lengths behind. We afterwards had our pictures taken, and I sent a copy to the school a few years ago."
This race appears to have been the first one with outsiders in the history of the School; but S. H. Howe, '73, who entered St. Mark's in 1868, writes as follows (Alumni Bulletin, Vol. I, No. 3): "I have found an old photograph of a crew that rowed a race on one of the South Framingham ponds probably in the fall of 1872. Those in the picture are E. P. Burke, H. J. Train, now Mayor of Wellfleet, Mass., James Russell Soley, one of the Tutors and later Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and myself. The crew were supposed to row against a crew from the Nobscot Club of Framingham, but in reality the latter were all professionals from Boston, except a Mr. Clark, who lived in Framingham. As you can well imagine, we trailed in that race. Mr. Soley was our coach, and he rowed with us as a substitute."
In the Alumni Catalogue of 1924 only one Edward Burke appears, Edward Nevins, of the class of '71, from Lowell; but in that of 1901 there is an Edward Parker Burke, who was at the School from '67 to '72, and whose home is given as Pittsburgh. It is possible that S. H. Howe's memory is of the race described above by E. N. Burke, '71, and that he confused the initials of the two men; but in any case the other three men, including himself, were apparently the same if there were two races, and the date of the first race falls before 1872. The two accounts themselves do not seem to refer to the same contest.
Methods of punishment used to enforce discipline have not essentially changed since the earliest days. The tasks imposed were writing pages of Worcester's Elementary Dictionary and lines of Virgil, both of which, as they were thought to injure the handwriting, ---an important personal matter before the invention of the typewriter, --- were soon discontinued, and the offender required to commit to memory lines of Latin.(34) The origin of the name "slate" seems apparent; there is, or was until recently, a desk from the old school in one of the School recitation-rooms provided with a slate which slid in and out above the tier of drawers. Faithfully following linguistic psychology, the word may now mean the book in which deficiencies or punishments are recorded, the impositions themselves, the hour at which they are served, the place in which they are held, and the group of unfortunate youths involved.(35) Another punishment was the assignment for a given number of days to "bounds," and later "close bounds," the former keeping a boy within the school grounds, and the latter to the house and the gymnasium. These fitted the crime of going to neighboring towns without permission, or of committing some flagrant act of trespass. In the discipline of the School the monitors were not at first regarded as of much practical use; but they soon showed their value by trying and convicting one boy of a serious breach of discipline. They had charge of the schoolroom in rotation from half-past eight, when the younger boys retired, until bedtime, and had full power to inflict punishment, which they were often obliged to do. The responsibility thus imposed on the monitors gave them a standing which some of them would not otherwise have had, and this responsibility in later years developed so finely as to be of very marked influence in the character and welfare of the School.(36) Punishments were available to them which tutors could not properly use, as for instance the threat which one ingenious monitor used to make of giving the offender the drumstick at the next Sunday dinner of turkey at which he carved!
In Dr. Lowell's time corporal punishment was not uncommon, though the parents of the boys were by no means unanimous in their approval of it, nor did it entirely disappear until well into the eighties; and expulsion, never out of the question, was occasionally necessary either for the good of the boy or for that of the School. The "Sacred Six," an unlawful club of card players, was smashed by Dr. Lowell, and its officers expelled. The boys, "whose sense of honor among themselves was fine and unhesitating,"(37) sometimes took discipline into their own hands. One boy, who had put some snow in another's bed and thereby caused him to take a severe cold, was taken to the pond and ducked by his fellows until he cried for mercy.
Hazing has never played any considerable part at St. Mark's. Mild instances by way of initiation occurred, new boys sometimes being tossed in blankets and put through a number of other harmless "stunts" in no way comparable with those in vogue at the colleges. As late as 1882 the new boy was sometimes asked in a whisper whether he belonged to the Chain Gang, and shown bones said to be those of a First Form boy who had not joined in time. Evenly paired new boys were sometimes made to fight, but the spirit of the contest seems to have been comparatively unobjectionable; and the rough and tumble battles of a group of small boys managed and directed by Lester Newell, '72, and called "Newell's Five Mighties," against some of the larger boys, may safely be called mere athletic contests. "The spirit of the School, and the power of 'playing the game' which one could not help acquiring there, were strong, as was the realization of the necessity of carrying out in life the School motto."(38)
There was no infirmary, or "hospital," the first year or two after the opening of the School. In one recorded case of sickness a boy was put into one of the unoccupied rooms in the third story, and his sister sent for to nurse him. Simple colds or the spring fever were thought nothing of, and wet feet were not mentioned. But from its beginning the health of the School has been extraordinarily good, a fact to be attributed to the "healthful locality," the "freedom from objectionable features," the wholesome food, and most of all perhaps to the unrecorded love of those women whose maternal care through the years is beyond all gratitude and praise.
The food was simple, but well cooked and plentiful. Tea, cocoa and milk were served at breakfast and supper, and coffee on Thursdays and Sundays. In the early seventies the fare on Friday was invariably baked bluefish, and on Sunday turkey from Thanksgiving until Easter. We find mention of a legendary Margaret who had charge of the dining-room,(39) and could be softened to give the boys syrup to eat on their bread at suppertime, when it was not down on the menu. No boarding-school boy has ever been without such an Egeria. The excellence of the fare has, in fact, become traditional, and there is small difference between that of today and the wholesome meats, vegetables, puddings, cereal, milk and soups of the early eighties, at least. Illness(40) could almost always be traced to offences against wholesome diet at the "Centre Store," a delightful old-fashioned emporium which sold everything under the sun that a farmer could want, and was educated to the production of a marvellous "soda" called "coffee-vanilla-cream," which in a less healthful or youthful community would certainly have slain its tens of thousands.(41)
Inquiries about the life at St. Mark's during the first five years yield little from which to present a detailed picture; we are reminded that many years have passed since that first "collation" in the dining-room, and the meeting in the room "yet unfinished." But we are privileged to go back to 1869 and look through a pair of clear twelve-year-old eyes into the early School. The following are letters written at the time by a new boy.
Sept. 5, 1869. The weekly pay I received was fifteen cents. For the offertory twenty cents. I sang in the choir today at church, and am secretary of the third nine. I find there are a good many boys collecting postage stamps, which is quite encouraging. One boy has got 860, another 560 kinds.
Sept. 10. I am helping a boy by the name of Henry Austin collect cocoons, crysalises and butterflys. On Saturday we played Indians. The boys want me to belong to a boat club. They have a nice place to row on which is called Parker Pond. Please do not send me any of those patented skates (i.e., without straps, which had just come out) for they are harder to skate on than "rockers," as they require very strong ankles.
Sept. 12. We had a reception last night in which new boys had to be initiated. I have now 592 stamps, not counting my Hamburg Locals (these were cheap reprints).
Sept. 25. We had an Agricultural Fair at Framingham on the 22d. It didn't amount to much as it rained. They have a very nice hall where they keep their vegetables. The expenses of the fair were $1.05, 55 cts. railway and 50 cents extra allowance. There was a squash 2-1/2 feet long. We rise at 6-1/2. I wake up generally at 5-1/2 and as soon as I wake up I get up. We have prayers at 8 o'clock, study hour 8-9, arithmetic and dictionary 9-10-1/2, geography 10-1/2-11, recess, 11-12 Latin. (Query: where did the recess come in?) Hour for going to bed 8-1/2 to go up stairs, 9 o'clock to be in bed. We had fish balls this morning which is quite unusual. I went to the library last night which is called Fay's Library.
Oct. 3. I have got to speak Thursday. The monthly marks were given out last Wednesday by Mr. Lewis. The names of the tutors in the order I like them is Mr. Locke, Mr. Orcutt, Mr. Bostwick and Mr. Lewis. There is going to be a cattle show this week with velocipede races, sack and foot races. Next Saturday night is reception night, in which we are going to have ice cream and cake. Some new boys have come, Chapin, Haggin (later of "Anaconda" fame), Faber and Slatiper. We have got a fine lot of Chestnuts and Hickory Nuts, Harry Austin, Bobby Lowell and myself. We are not going to have any school "fair day" and only one day Thanksgiving. We have two texts over two of the windows in the school room, one is Abhor that which is Evil, and the other Cleave to that which is Good.
Oct. 17. A new boy named Tuckerman came last week. How far have they moved the Hotel Pelham (in Boston) back? Dr. Storer came last week to try to get his boy into the school. The boy seemed to be quite smart. He said he liked to climb about a good deal. But his boy was too young. We practice music on Friday 2 to 3. Then we go out to play ball or go after Chestnuts till of 6. We then wait 5 minutes out of doors, then we go in and wash. As soon as we have done washing we go down into the school room, and in minutes comes the roll call. Then we go into supper. When it is rainy we play tag in the gymnasium. We are going to have divine service at Cordaville. In the Te Deum Dr. Lowell says We Praise Thee Oh God, and then the choir comes in.(42) The music went off very well. Only two boys are allowed to go to walk together. Bobby Lowell has got a dog here called Ponto. Its color is Roman Ochre (showing the influence of color in stamps).
Oct. 20. There are 19 boys in the choir and three tutors, namely Mr. Lewis, Mr. Bostwick and Mr. Orcutt. Mr. Locke plays the organ. The third form in French is now reciting. The teacher, poor man, has to walk on crutches. He is a Frenchman by birth. (Professor Boris.) They are putting on an addition to the building. It is a small chancel leading out of the front of the school room. The boys play prisoner's base a good deal, in which all the tutors play except Mr. Lewis. In addition to them, Mr. Ned Appleton and Mr. Ned Burnett. The boys are tired of it and are getting up a subscription for a football.
Oct. 24. Rob. Burnett has got a pet snake. It is the ribbon snake. 'Tis a very harmless snake which you can find in the woods very easily under old decayed stumps.
Oct. 31. The football has arrived at last, much to my joy. Church commences at past 10 in the morning and in the afternoon at 1/4 of 4. They have finished the chancel they are putting on the school room. Freeman, Nye and I took a walk to the graveyard this afternoon. The oldest date we found on a gravestone was 1703. I also found a mole, which I gave to a boy here who is collecting skins. The boy's name is Gillett. The mole was dead. Our church stands on an eminence, and is just suited to the congregation which is small. It is built of stone, like Mr. Burnett's house. Mr. Burnett's house is situated near Parker Pond. It probably cost $100,000, so I have heard, but I suppose it is a little exaggerated. He has very fine grounds; a river running through the back of his land, from the pond, terminates in another pond about 1/50 as large as the other, on which his daughters skate instead of on the large pond, where the boys go. My pocket money is off for two weeks, because I broke two windows in the gymnasium. I was playing ball there with Faber. [The southern windows of the gymnasium were soon walled up, and skylights were put in.]
Nov. 7. We are going to have an offertory this afternoon for the missions in Oregon and Washington Territory. I got an order for picture cord from Mr. Lewis. An order is a slip of paper on which is written St. Mark's School, the place where you buy the things, and tells the owner of the store to give the bearer such articles as are written in the order. Austin and I are going to have a hut together. Almost before I knew it they put a porch on that connects the chancel with the house and it is principally I suppose to keep the rain off when Dr. Lowell passes from the house to the chancel. Instead of kneeling on the bare floor in the School room we are supplied with carpets about a foot square. I think that hockey playing near the house will be stopped because so many windows have been broken it don't pay. Football is my favorite game and is fast getting to be with the other boys. Tuckerman has the best collection of bird's eggs in the school. He has 200 kinds. His aunt has been to the top of the pyramids and to Jerusalem. We have four recitation rooms counting the school room. On Monday the first two recitations are always omitted.
Nov. 14. We had a reception last night. The programme was as follows: "The Fate of Virginia," by Gathe Smith, which was very good. The Shadow Pantomime, the Barber's Shop and a play entitled "Ici on parle Français." The principal actors were: Mr. Locke, Williams, Haggin, Burnett W., Burnett R., Chapin and McMillan. We had turkey for dinner today and for dessert we had apples. Quite a number of boys are going to stay here Thanksgiving.
Feb. 6. Our skates have all gone to Boston to get cleaned. We went to Worcester yesterday in a big sleigh large enough to hold thirty boys. We had a very nice supper there and got home at past 10. We had coffee in Worcester with our supper and more coffee when we got home.
Mar. 13. Bobby Lowell has got a box of Winsor Newtin paints. I paint texts now and it is real nice fun. Several other boys are painting texts. I went to a lecture given last night by Mr. Burnett (junior) on Western Farms. We have to go to Church three times each week in Lent, Mon., Wed. and Friday. We went up to Church to practice last night and afterwards went coasting on Hickson's Hill till past nine. There is something the matter with my sled. Hudson says it is rackety.
June 18. I wish you could have gone with us to White Pond. We had races there. One between Mr. Bostwick and Waters in one boat, and Train and E. N. Burke in another. The latter beat by 3 seconds. For dinner we had coffee, rusks, ice-cream, bananas, ham, tongue and candy. Pretty good. We went in swimming and fishing. It was a nice place to go in. The shore gradually sloped from the land and it was pure gravel bottom. We dove from a very nice boat called the monitor with a covered deck.
Oct. 7. Last night was reception night. Mr. Hughes author of Tom Brown at Rugby and a Mr. Rawlins are stopping here over Sunday. Mr. Hughes gave a very interesting account of the good done the poor in London. He also told of missionary work among the Diaks.
Mar. 26, 1871. We are going to have a play the night before Easter, entitled Julius Caesar, gotten up by Mr. Soley. I take the part of "Second Plebeian." The money for the hut has been paid in equally by both of us. (This refers to a hut with Rob Chapin on the site of the present St. Mark's School, then a rough sort of field.)
Nov. 19. By the time this reaches you I expect to have about three inches of mumps.
Dec. 10. I suffered from the mumps ten days.
So writes B. F. Harding, '7., who returned for a year as tutor in 1879, and became afterwards a well-known educator.(43) The visit of Thomas Hughes to the School, of which young Harding speaks, is also mentioned by Mr. George Herbert Millett, who entered the School in '68. "It so happened that the Saturday he arrived we had a game of baseball with the Harvard Freshmen. It was the first time he had seen a game, and he was very much interested in the different plays. I was playing left field, and being so fortunate as to catch a man out was taken up to the carriage after the innings and introduced to him by Mr. Burnett. I took a walk with him after church on Sunday, and he wanted to visit my traps to see how we caught muskrats. He was a charming man, and I was thrilled with admiration for him."(44) Hughes was a welcome guest of the Headmaster at St. Mark's for several days. One result of his visit we find in the capital speech of the great favorite of all schoolboys made at the Boys' Home upon his return, in which, referring to his visit to "one of the best schools in New England," he spoke of attending one of the monthly receptions. "At the end of the room, amongst other decorations, the motto of the School stood out in large bright letters, 'Age Quod Agis.' I thought at the time that I had never seen or heard a better motto for a boy's School." Construing it as " 'Whatever you do, do it with a will," he recommended it as a good rule of life for English as well as for Yankee boys, at lessons, trades, or play, and compares it with the words from Ecclesiastes quoted elsewhere. The "large bright letters" may have been the old English ones painted over the little chancel whose construction young Harding mentions, which were there as early as 1882.
As is to be expected, "discipline," or rather the breaches thereof, are prominent in the memories of those who lived at the School before any complete organization of its activities had developed. One day somebody put a turtle in the desk of a timid boy who had lived most of his life in France. The lid of the desk slowly arose, and the turtle dropped into the boy's lap. It must have badly frightened one who had probably never seen such a creature before; there was a scream; and Dr. Lowell, in the long black gown he always donned on official occasions, demanded to know who was responsible, etc. The incident led to complications, insubordination, and finally the expulsion of two or three boys. Mischief was inevitable when there was leisure for it; and turtles and black gowns are strange bedfellows for the young American's sense of humor. To this epoch belongs the following memorandum written by Dr. Lowell:
Sabbato (Kal. Apr. VIII) vespere, E. N. Burke, monitore, vice sua, in aula scholastica praesidente et eam curante, puer quidam (E. J. Amory) arcessitus, librum afferre noluit. Iterum arcessitus, noluit iterum. Invitus, tandem, accessit, librumque tradidit. Rogatus quid dixisset, insolens erat, verba monitoris ridicule iterans.
Imposuit Monitor, etiam at que etiam, lineas (45) us que ad. . . .
Die lunae mane, statim post Preces, Pueris omnibus in Aula scholastica praesentibus, Tutoribus autem non praesentibus, Magister princ. rem omnem exposuit, auctoritatem Scholae, in Monitore sitam vindicandam esse ostendens et puerum nocentem satisfactionem amplissimam, verbis idoneis, monitori praebere, opus esse. Deinde, Monitor, in cujus persona laesa erat Scholae auctoritas, in sella constitutus est et ei puer ille verbis amplis satisfecit.
(Risu ineunte quum monitor solus praeesset scholae, puerque nocens satisfacere inciperet, Tutor primarius, qui adeo adstitisset, scholam intravit.)
It has been justly remarked that such an infraction of discipline would in later days be handled in the Sixth Form room; but we may be glad that in this case it was not, for the scene, "risu ineunte," seems to abolish the years between the modern boy and his grandfather, and the deep calls to the deep.
It was not until the early eighties that the "upper field " came into common use. It was roughly the one now used for football, but of course then ungraded. Baseball was from the beginnings the great sport of the School, and the nine was always relatively good among the nines of the vicinity.(46) Only the first nine in the early seventies wore a uniform, which had come to consist of close-fitting dark blue flannel trousers with a white corded silk stripe, a white enamel belt, a white flannel shirt with "S. M." in magenta letters, and a white cap. The appropriation of distinctive colors is a comparatively late development in both schools and colleges: Harvard's crimson was not settled on at least until President Eliot rowed on the crew, and Groton's first colors were blue and white. It is perhaps natural that the original magenta colored the letters of the School baseball uniform longest. Mrs. Peck, who came to the School in 1883, seems the first to have definitely appropriated the blue and white as the colors, and to have suggested the use of the lion as an emblem.(47) Mr. Peck, afterwards Headmaster, was the great pitcher, and indeed was said to be the best straight-arm pitcher in Massachusetts. He tossed an aggravatingly slow ball, usually just good enough to tempt the batter to hit at it, and yet poor enough to make the resulting hit ineffective. The catcher used to stand at some distance behind the plate, and drew in closer only when a batter reached first. Catching behind the bat, in its proper sense, never fully developed until the pitch, or toss, changed into the underhand throw (at Harvard in 1876, when the battery was Tyng and Ernst) ; and even thereafter for many years the catcher would stand at some distance behind the plate and allow the ball to strike the back-stop and rebound to him, drawing into the present position only when a batter had reached first base, or a third strike was due. The pitcher was at first allowed any number of balls, but was later limited to nine. The ball, rubber-cored, was called the "Bounding Rock," and deserved its name.
We have seen that football did not take a firm hold as a School sport for several years.(48) It was a rough and tumble game, played with an inflated rubber ball. No holding, tackling, off-side, passing, and running with the ball were allowed; the ball had to be kicked; and a player trying to kick it could be bumped out of the way by the shoulder of an opponent. When two opposing players rushed to kick and met each other at the ball the result was infallibly a sore shin for one or the other, for there were no such things as pads or protective uniform of any description. Little interest was taken in the game; the popular fall sport was land hockey. The boys cut their own sticks in the woods, three feet long with a curve at the end, preferably swelling into a knot, and for a puck used a small hardwood cube, called a "hockey block." The object was to drive this block over the goal line; and there was no more team play in this game than in football.(49) Ice-hockey was played in the same way, but with a straight hickory stick artificially bent into a curve at the end, and with a solid rubber ball. Skating and coasting were the winter sports, and there was usually a chance for the latter on Hickson's, the Giant's Grave, or the two Red Mills. The sleds were made of hard wood, long, narrow, and heavy, with stout round steel spring runners, and were very fast. The first few coasts down the hill scientifically started a rut, and when this was well established, and if possible splashed all the way down with water and frozen, perfection of coasting was attained, and practically no guiding of the sled was necessary.(50)
The skating was usually at Parker Pond, where it continued until the reservoirs and later the present rinks were constructed. Here the only death by accident in the history of the School took place in 1871, when Henry McDonald Bushnell, of Quincy, Illinois, broke through the ice while skating, and was drowned. Those who remember the terrible event report that repeated efforts to save him were made, but that when he was brought to the Sawin house it was too late, although Mr. Soley and others worked until exhausted to restore him to life.
The sport of trapping began, as we have seen, with the exploration of the neighboring woods and hills in the first year. It continued busily until about 1885, when the organized sports began to leave comparatively little place for it, except in the case of those unable to take part in them. The commonest game was muskrats, rabbits, squirrels, and an occasional mink. Two or three boys usually associated themselves together, and the surrounding country was parcelled off according to an unwritten law among these groups of trappers. Much of the territory lay along the course of the brook, and was full of pond holes and marshy lands, which have since disappeared beneath the reservoir. The unwritten law (51) referred to was that the boys who trapped on any given ground had the exclusive right to it, and might sell it or bequeath it when they left to whomever they chose. A tract of land was sometimes let to other boys, and payment taken in a portion of the game served at supper. The grewsome tradition of a cat caught in a rabbit-snare, cleaned, cooked and served to those whom the perpetrators did not like, --- including a tutor, who took a second helping,---has been incidentally verified. On one occasion a youthful trapper caught a town boy trapping in his territory, who upon being asked what he meant by trapping in "my woods," replied, "They belong to my father." (52) The skins of muskrats were sold for seventeen cents each and those of skunks for seventy-five to the Boston fur-dealers, and one boy earned forty dollars in one autumn by his trapping. The little animals when trapped would often gnaw their legs off (53) and escape unless the trapper appeared very early in the morning; and as it was forbidden to leave the house before breakfast, there was irresistible temptation to slide down the gutter-pipe before daybreak and get back to bed again before the half-past six rising-bell.
JAMES IVERS TRECOTHICK COOLIDGE, the son of Charles Dawes Coolidge and Eliza Austin, was born on the first day of November, 1817, at Boston, in a house owned by his grandfather, Benjamin Austin, on Hancock Street. At the age of ten he entered the Boston Latin School, which then stood on School Street, on the present site of the Parker House, and was graduated from this school in 1833. He spent the following year at a private school in Spring Lane conducted by Frederick P. Leverett, and entered Harvard College in the following fall. At the time of his graduation in 1838 he delivered the class day oration in the University Chapel. A commencement part also was assigned to him, the subject being, "Are Sumptuary Laws Consistent with a Comprehensive and Enlightened Policy?" This discussion was treated in the form of a debate, in which Coolidge took the affirmative.
Dr. Coolidge has stated that it was his class that reformed class-day at Harvard. Previous to 1838 the day had been observed by the seniors mainly in entertaining the rest of the students by setting up, filling, and replenishing with punch numerous tubs placed at convenient points in the college yard, with the result, as Coolidge said, that the occasion degenerated into more or less of an orgy; and President Quincy put a stop to it. The seniors agreed that if the faculty would furnish the music they would invite their lady friends to dance in the yard on the grass under the trees. This the faculty agreed to do, and the class-day of 1838 marked the beginning of a series of pleasant occasions from which has sprung the brilliant affair of today.
Coolidge entered the Harvard Divinity School in 1838, and was graduated in 1841. He soon received a call from the Purchase Street Congregational Society, Unitarian, and on February the ninth, 1842, was ordained at their meeting-house at the corner of Pearl and Purchase Streets. In 1847 the corner stone of a new church was laid at the corner of Harrison Avenue and Beach Street for the parish, which became the Thirteenth Congregational Society. He continued as pastor of this congregation until 1858, when after careful consideration he became converted to the teachings of the Protestant Episcopal faith, and was ordained deacon in St. Paul's Church, Boston, April fourteenth, 1859.
His diaconate was served in Boston and Providence, and on the fourteenth of March, 1860, he was elevated to the priesthood in Grace Church, Providence, remaining at St. John's Church as assistant to the venerable rector, Rev. Dr. Crocker, until the first of November, 1861. Thence he went as rector to St. Matthew's Church, South Boston, where he remained until his resignation in 1873. Hobart College, Geneva, New York, conferred upon him the degree of doctor of sacred theology in 1870.
Dr. Coolidge's resignation from St. Matthews had hardly taken effect when he was called to Southborough as temporary Headmaster of the School and Rector of the Church. He entered upon his duties there on the first of September, 1873, was elected Headmaster on the twenty-fifth of April, 1874, and remained until the first of August, 1882. In the fall of that year he and his wife moved to Cambridge, where he wished to rest from active life; but through one of his old parishioners, who had moved to Hingham, he was induced to minister to the parish of the Church of St. John there, still living in Cambridge and going down to Hingham every week. Finding at last with increasing years that the trips were too arduous, he ended his pastorate, and was made Rector Emeritus by his grateful parishioners. He died on the eighteenth of June, 1913, at the great age of ninety-seven years, having been for some time the oldest living graduate of Harvard College. Mrs. Coolidge, who with her daughter was of great importance to the School during her husband's administration, was before her marriage Mary Ruth Channing Rogers, of Boston, a niece of William Ellery Channing. The eldest child, Elizabeth Ware, died at Southborough in 1879, and another daughter, Margaret Chapman, became the wife of Walter Deane, of Cambridge, who was for several years a tutor at the School.
At the meeting of the twenty-fifth of April, 1874, when Dr. Coolidge was elected Headmaster and thanked for his previous work at the School, the Rt. Rev. Benjamin H. Paddock, D.D., was elected a member of the Corporation, and, upon the withdrawal of Dr. Coolidge, President of it; Judge Redfield resigned; and Francis C. Foster and the Rev. Professor Thomas Pynchon, D.D., LL.D., were unanimously elected. In April, 1875, Joseph Burnett, who had been devoting much attention to the matter of security from fire and to the question of new buildings, reported the School in a flourishing condition. It is interesting to notice a vote at this meeting of a half scholarship to Morris H. Morgan. During the following year many improvements were made at Dr. Coolidge's suggestion, among which was that of the ball ground, an ice-house, and a grant of two hundred dollars for the purchase of necessary books. It was also voted that the recommendation of the Standing Committee in their annual report, that the tutors of the School be Churchmen, be approved as far as practicable. Applications for membership in the School were so many that a committee was appointed to consider the possibility of increasing its capacity; and the following fall the Headmaster was requested, in case of any excess of applications for admission after the full number of fifty-six should have been accepted, to call a meeting of the Trustees.
It is reported by a boy in School at the time that with Dr. Coolidge's administration the boys began to feel more at home in their school life; his family took them into their home circle, and they began to entertain a different view of "boarding-school." The earlier formality between master and pupil began to merge into the closer relation of personal friendship. The tutors, too, thawed out; the atmosphere had lost its chill; and the boys found that their masters had once been boys themselves, and began to love them as well as to respect them. "Thus the seed was sown that has transformed the early typical boarding-school, which happily so few of us still living ever attended, into an attractive home, full of inspiration and opportunity. And it is this aspect of the highest type of boarding school that constitutes its chief charm and merit."
The atmosphere spoken of was very favorable to the sprouting of new interests throughout the School, and in October, 1877, the announcement was made that W. R. Travers, Jr., a late pupil at the School, had contributed five hundred dollars for the benefit of the library.(54) This was, for the times, rightly termed a "magnificent gift," and with the "purchase of necessary books" by the Trustees noted above, and some volumes given by Mr. Burnett in 1865 and by Mr. Foster in 1875, it may justly be regarded as the corner stone of the present excellent library. This was followed in 1879 by a gift of two hundred dollars from N. S. and J. Simpkins. The "library fund" was not begun until 1895, when a contribution to it of one thousand dollars was made by W. K. Brice, '91, later a master at the school. By the winter of 1880 the library contained 660 volumes.
Another new enterprise was the starting of a school paper called the Courier, on the fifteenth of April, 1875, under the editorship of W. B. Chapin, J. L. Breck, W. A. Howe, and W. C. Eames. This was an uncovered sheet of four pages. Only two numbers appeared, but they served to blaze the way for the Vindex, which issued its first number in February, 1877; and they throw a sudden flood of light on the interests and occupations of the School. The first article is a salutatory, and the next states the expected activities on St. Mark's day, the twenty-fifth of April: a crew race in the morning, and a match game of ball in the afternoon, "both of which contests will be with opponents of crew and nine picked from graduates, who come to the school every year at this time to celebrate its anniversary." This interest among the graduates we recognize as one of the factors in the steady development of our best traditions. After mentioning the fact that "a mosquito was killed here on Tuesday " the paper at once inaugurates the custom of scolding the baseball nine. Recommending the game as manly, invigorating and harmless, the writer warns his readers that everybody must obey his captain, and "thus remedy one of the evils which have hitherto beset our nine"; that strength in wrists and arms, the secret of a heavy striker, must be cultivated in the gymnasium; and that " players must not be cross with one another, and play all out of humor, --- and thus let a man run two or even three bases." Let your motto be Age Quod Agis, he adds. Hand ball had been played the year before by about five clubs for a prize.(55) The editors are tired of those old white shirts the nine wear with their faded magenta trimmings, and the blue peg-top trousers, and are glad of the new ones of very light gray flannel, bound with blue, having blue buttons and a blue monogram worked in,--- the monogram of a different pattern from the old one, neither so heavy nor so "squatty." The color of the knee breeches is not given, but the stockings are long and blue, and the baseball shoes white. The boat club is noticed next, and, though but recently organized, is described as in active progress. A second-hand four-oared shell, forty-two feet long, twenty inches broad, and one hundred and twenty pounds in weight was bought for fifty dollars from St. Paul's School on the "high description" of it given by a former St. Paul's man, --- a transaction which in the next number we find repented of. That printing was at one time a popular interest we infer from the statement that the "quondam hen-house and printing-office opposite the gymnasium is being fitted up as a club room." Perhaps the germs of the Courier's failure are to be found in the nature of its serious articles, --- one discussing the relative merits of meat and fish as foods; another about rosewood; another on how to obtain oxygen; and a fourth on nitroglycerine as a motor.
A month later the Courier tells us that there were now in the boat-house one four-oared lapstreak boat, and two single shells, all in constant demand, and three organized crews; and that in the races on St. Mark's day the fourth crew beat Mr. Estabrook's by five seconds. There is a note also to the effect that the "medal" will this year and hereafter be given to a member of the Fourth or Fifth Form who has been a member of the School for three years, and who shall have obtained at least a certain average. For ball games two nines were chosen from the first and second to play a regular series of games. On April the thirtieth came the game with the Harvard Freshmen, which was reported as "too one-sided to be interesting to us." From another source we learn that either in this game or the next the Freshmen backers appeared in long frock coats and small derby hats. The score was nineteen to four in favor of the Freshmen; St. Mark's made two errors and seven hits, and the Freshmen one error and "so many hits that they were not kept."
But in this game a piece of ingenuity was shown which enables St. Mark's to claim that the first mask ever made for a catcher was used on her field, W. A. Howe, '77,(56) had been constantly injured while catching, and he was allowed to catch in this game only on condition that he would wear a mask as he had done in practice during the winter, ---one fitted up by the local blacksmith out of a fencing-mask, with 'large holes cut in it and the front reinforced by heavy copper wire. The invention has been attributed to F. W. Thayer, Harvard, '78;(57) but as Thayer played on the Harvard Freshman Team in the above game, at St. Mark's, and his mask "was made by a tinsmith in Cambridge and was tried out in the winter of 1876,"(57) the invention and the demonstration of the practical value of the mask, if not the enterprise of fully adapting and patenting it, obviously belong to St. Mark's; and with them the glory of saving innumerable American noses.
Spelling-matches formed an occasional entertainment, and were continued until well into the eighties. In one of these reported in the Courier there were two teams, with Dr. Coolidge as referee and Mr. Peck giving out the words. On one side M. H. Morgan, J. S. Howe, Capt. Riley and T. H. Brown were left, and W. P. B. Weeks on the other. Sympathies were of course with Weeks; but just after Brown fell on "embassy" Weeks retired on "labyrinth." But the match continued: Howe fell on "idiosyncrasy," Morgan on "dicotyledonous," and last of all Riley on "reminiscence." We need certainly not be ashamed of our future trustee on this occasion.
Nearly two years passed before a school paper was again attempted. The prime mover was W. C. Eames, and the others those of the Courier except Knowles, who took the place of Chapin. The editors had evidently profited by experience, and instead of jokes and stories and uninteresting articles we now find discussions of timely subjects and comment on popular interests. The first issue of the Vindex was the February, 1877, number, and except during the year 1882-3 it has appeared and prospered up to the present day.
The boys whose knowledge of the School covers the period from 1874 to 1877 have always looked upon that period as the Golden Age of St. Mark's School. The period of her infancy was over, the policies of the School had become fixed, and after many vicissitudes the control had been handed over to a Headmaster who was destined for many years to conduct affairs with dignity and success. The staff of instructors had been built up of men of scholarly attainments and marked personal characteristics; the number of pupils had steadily increased; and St. Mark's, originally intended to satisfy a local need, enjoyed a reputation which in 1874 had brought boys from New York, Philadelphia, Washington, and even Grand Rapids, Michigan.(58) During this period and until 1882 Dr. Coolidge exerted an important influence in the School's development. Though not large of stature he had a commanding presence, and could inspire a respect that might almost be called terror in the younger boys; his assertions were always positive, and he left no room for doubt that his orders must be obeyed. If his sermons were sometimes over the heads of his parishioners the fact must be attributed to the rigidity of the times in religious matters, and Dr. Coolidge was even then no longer a young man; but he was nevertheless an eloquent and sincere preacher, as is proved by his subsequent work at Hingham. To these essential abilities were added the kindlier ones of sympathy and a strong sense of humor,(59) and the help from his wife and daughters, three lovely women who made an indelible impression on every boy who came to the School. "They opened the doors of hospitality to us," writes one, "and created a cheerful and homelike atmosphere. On Sunday evenings they invited us into their parlor with loving sympathy and cordial greetings, and we sang hymns and carols. I have many letters still from Miss Lillie, who was one of the most beautiful Christian women I have ever known, and through her lovely character had great influence on the younger boys. On Sunday mornings there was always a race between Ben Harding and myself (60) for the privilege of carrying her --- for she was crippled --- to the carriage for church." It was Miss Lillie who wrote a temperate article in the Vindex which reminded the young trappers of humanity and proper consideration for their pets. She died in Southborough in 1879; and in the midst of the dry records of the Trustees at Dr. Coolidge's leaving are the words "But for fear of trespassing upon the sacredness of a private sorrow the Trustees might speak of the gentle and patient ministry of one who is no longer with us." There is a beautiful window to her memory in St. Mark's Church, given by the boys of the School. "Her spirit is of beauty and of power, and her memory an incentive and a guide," was written of her; and the subject of the memorial window is Murillo's Guardian Angel.
Under Dr. Coolidge were two masters, one of whom, as a boy we have already quoted says, everybody revered and the other everybody loved. "The Senior Master, Mr. Peck,(61) was a model of exactitude and propriety: he was never known to make a mistake. I don't know how he regulated his watch, but it was always right, and he insisted on absolute punctuality in the boys. His chirography"---with which Mr. Peck was himself always humorously dissatisfied---"though back-handed, was large and clear, and gave one the conviction that what he wrote was so. He always wore a double-breasted sack coat" usually of dark blue "and a red necktie. The expression of his face was singularly impassive, but he had an alertness of manner and a penetrating eye which betrayed the fact that his cold exterior was merely a mask to hide an emotional nature. He was always impartial, and he was always just. Mr. Deane, of engaging presence, was the antithesis of Mr. Peck. Though not large in size, he had a deep bass voice, well modulated and very effective with unruly youth. He was the instructor in mathematics, which to the boys meant that he was a genius; and he was also an athlete, exceedingly fast on his legs and a terrific batter."
It may well be," continues our writer,(62) "that later periods in St. Mark's history can boast of greater achievements than were possible in those early days. The broader horizon that has come to the School through increase in numbers and enlargement of facilities has doubtless opened more paths of usefulness. Nevertheless, the older graduates cherish memories of their Alma Mater which they would be loath to lose. With our smaller numbers we were a more compact body than is found in the large schools of today. We formed a single group; all our schoolmates were intimate with one another; and idiosyncrasies of character were put to a severer test. The outside world could not reach us through the automobile or the telephone, and we absorbed more freely the influences which surrounded us. Those influences at the period of which I write were good, and they did much to help us in formulating correct principles for a happy and successful life."
In the early part of 1877 the number of boats on the pond had increased to seven. Rowing-weights had been set up in the gymnasium, primitive affairs with boxes in which the weights slid from the gymnasium floor to the cellar floor, and these served for winter exercise. The stamp craze had possession of the School, and out-of-doors lacrosse was for the time threatening to supplant even baseball. But suddenly scarlet fever broke out, and on the sixth of February school was dismissed. The extent and consequences of this were apparently small, for the School was at work again three weeks later on the twenty-eighth, with the determination to make up for lost time. Declamation, theatricals---at which the young ladies of the town helped---and the Lenten services at church on Wednesdays and Fridays at five were some of the interests of the winter term, and the outbuildings of the School swarmed with pet rabbits, squirrels and crows. We have found that very successful plays had been given, usually the night before vacation or on reception night; and public declamation was part of the curriculum. The afternoon Lenten services in the beautiful little stone church consisted of the Litany and a "lecture," and are remembered by those who attended them with something of the same deep affection that later graduates feel for our own Chapel services today. Bishop Paddock visited the parish on the fourteenth of March, and seven boys from the School were confirmed.
Preparations for rowing and baseball began as soon as the weather allowed, and soon the enthusiastic crews began to row before breakfast. On the nine we still find tutors, one of whom was Mr. D. W. Abercrombie, to whom Worcester Academy owes so much.(63) At a meeting of the nine, resolutions were passed for the adoption of a new uniform, hat "similar to the Freshmen's," and a grey shirt trimmed with crimson. The old subordination of all interests to the serious work of the School is well shown by the stopping of the important Harvard Freshman game at the end of seven innings "on account of school hours." This occasioned a dispute between the two teams which the umpire finally settled by announcing "no game."
The return to Southborough of Joseph Burnett and his family was always an eagerly welcomed event for the School, and no graduate of the earlier days fails to recall his gratitude to them for the important part their genial hospitality played in the social life of the boys. The day for the general reunion of graduates was changed from the twenty-fifth of April to the twenty-sixth of June, on the ground that the prize-giving and "the roses" then made the occasion more attractive. Five hundred invitations were sent out for Commencement.(64) There were seventeen in the graduating class prepared for Harvard and Yale, and the Vindex issued a special July number in order to describe the occasion. After a "bountiful collation," presumably in the School, the exercises were held in the Town Hall, which had been decorated by Mr. Lane. First came the singing of "Sun of My Soul," the prayer, the salutatory oration by Travers, then the class poem by Sturgis, and then the Greek oration by Knowles, the class song by Howe, and the oration, with valedictory addresses, by Morgan. These were followed by the awarding of prizes, including the Founder's Medal and a prize from the Headmaster to William Turnbull, Jr., for excellence of character and general merit during his school life. Then came the hymn " God Shall Charge His Angel Legions," and the Benediction. Ex-Governor Lippitt of Rhode Island was present, and spoke during the exercises. In the evening the whole school were the guests of Mr. Burnett at a delicious supper at eight o'clock, and remained until eleven. The evening at Mr. Burnett's house became the most charming part of graduation-day to the boys; and Mr. Burnett's grief, when many years later advancing age and the increasing numbers at the school forced him to discontinue it, was as great as that of his guests. There was often a ball game in the late afternoon on the spacious lawn between a team of brightly dressed ladies and older boys, at which a lady umpired, perhaps wearing a cutaway coat as evidence of her office. The boys were allowed to play with only their left hands, and the ladies usually won. The chivalrous school team were too solicitous about their dainty opponents to avoid defeat.
With the autumn of 1877 came a call in the Vindex for a football team, which most schools had already organized; but for the most part during October the baseball players still dotted the School grounds, and the little lake was a busy scene of practice for the coming boat races. Inside the building the "West Parlor" had taken definite rank as a library with its new case and several new sets of books, notably those of Dickens, Thackeray, James, Lytton, and Shakespeare. This was the result of Travers' gift, already noted, and but half the money had been spent. Because of the large graduating class in June the number of boys in the School had fallen from forty-nine to thirty-nine. Some interesting facts about these are that thirteen came from New York, ten from Boston, one from the Santee Agency, Nebraska, a distance of 2000 miles, and the rest scattering. Of regular ball-players there were twelve, of oarsmen nineteen, choir eighteen, trappers seven, new boys thirteen, and three designated as "swells," which probably implied no activity of any sort.
The boat race illustrates vividly the difficulty under which the oarsmen labored. There were two suitable boats, one the "Geraldine," a shell, and the other the lapstreak, for the two classes. The time-keeper, Mr. Peck, sent one crew away at half-past three (our future trustee D. B. Fearing rowed on this one). It rowed up and down the lake, making the half in four minutes and six seconds, and then again set out for the head of the lake, and accomplished the mile in eight minutes, forty-five seconds. Then the other crew entered the shell, made the half mile in three-forty-eight, and the mile in eight-twenty-three, thus winning. The time of the winner of the second race was nine-twenty-three; and the Vindex explains that as the course was only a quarter of a mile long the crews had to turn three times, which greatly increased the time necessary. J. Van Schaick had introduced the English stroke, but the crews had difficulty in learning it.
Trapping had been less popular than usual this year, and finally on the seventeenth of December the First Eleven played the school at football. The game lasted an hour, and resulted in a score of eleven touchdowns, two goals and one "poster" for the First, to nothing for the School. A writer in the Vindex describes football as "the game of games," and the resulting interest brought about the organizing of three elevens. Two tutors, Mr. Peck and Mr. Abercrombie, played on the First. On the seventh of January St. Mark's was defeated by a team of Harvard Freshmen, three of them former St. Markers, the score being three goals and four touchdowns to nothing; a good showing for St. Mark's under the circumstances. The contemporary comments on this game are entertaining and instructive. "Too much bunching was done by our men. Some people say that there is not much in football but a struggling mass of boys and a leather ball which excites them to great fury. But entering into it, and sympathizing with either side, one finds it as exciting as possible. Canvas shirts were used by our men, which the Freshmen could not hold on to. When the Freshmen had two goals it was decided that Howe should play for us, giving us twelve men to their ten; but the difference was made up for by the superb playing of Foster, a First Freshman Eleven man. It was almost impossible to pass him or to stop him. Howe was the only one who could do much for us." A letter in the Vindex from a Yale man who had graduated from St. Mark's describes his mixed feelings at a Yale '81 versus Harvard '81 game, with St. Mark's graduates on both teams; and one likes to believe that his words are not mere rhetoric. A code of football rules was printed for the School and sold at five cents a copy, and an article on training, in which the value of oat-meal is strongly emphasized, further testifies to the awakening interest.
School routine had become well established. The rising-bell rang at half-past six, the "second bell " at a quarter before seven, and for many years a third five minutes later. The "two-minute," an indoor bell, was the final warning. This superfluity was later toned down by Mr. Peck into a vigorous first, a tolled second and the five-minute. The prize for general excellence, which meant punctuality, neatness and decorum, came into existence this year; and the protest was at once made that the monitors had a great advantage. We do not find that it was ever necessary to give more than one first and one second prize, nor that these were ever for the perfection in punctuality attained by so many St. Markers of the present time. Since the days of Mr. Locke the tradition of a good choir had been maintained, and now a Glee Club was organized, over whose practice the Vindex is very jocose. The usual entertainers came to the Town Hall or to reception night," --- bell ringers, conjurers, ---and a Virginia reel sometimes ended the evening. The "West Parlor," or library, was the natural common-room, but because of fooling often had to be locked during the day. In the last four years a change had come about in the system of preparation for college examinations. During this time every boy sent from St. Mark's had entered creditably, many excellently, and some with high honors; but any boy was at liberty to try any number of subjects at the Harvard preliminary examinations, and some, really prepared on only seven or eight, would trust to luck and take ten or eleven. This year a certificate of preparation in studies offered had to be presented, and no boy was to be granted one unless he should pass the subject in the School examinations. The interest in the museum had been gaining, and its contents had now risen from the original garter snake to over 200 specimens.(65) D. B. Fearing read an essay on reptiles "showing hard work," others on conchology and similar matters of interest; Raymond Belmont gave twenty dollars, and Mr. Burnett ten for a microscope for the Society, which was formed on the twenty-fourth of May with Dr. Coolidge and his family as trustees, the tutors as honorary members, arid about forty others. After an epidemic of mumps at Easter preparations began for spring athletics, which resulted in sports and two or three interesting ball games. St. Mark's beat Hopkinson's by the score of thirty-six to six, and the Centennials by thirty-three to fourteen. In a game between the Marlborough Eagles and the St. Mark's Second the score was fifty-four to nine. St. Mark's made fifteen errors and the Eagles thirty. Of this game the following is recorded: "An interesting play was made by Bullock at second, who hid the ball under his arm until the runner edged off his base, and then quickly turned and touched him, to the great delight of the spectators and the astonishment of the unfortunate player." This incident, and the comment on it, may serve to remind us how young was the game of baseball at the time; but before making merry over the size of the score and the number of errors we must recall the straight-arm pitching, the balls allowed the pitcher, the bare hands of the players, the consistency of the ball, and the unprotected condition of the catcher, to say nothing of the uneven field. On the pond canoes were introduced this year, and races held in them. The swimming was from a group of rocks in a tiny grove at the water's edge three-quarters of the way up on the north bank, and less commonly from the boat-house, where the water was too shallow and the bottom thick with waterlogged sawdust. The boathouse was situated in the northeast corner, a few yards from the sawmill and the floodgates which controlled the level of the pond.
In the fall of 1878 the School began with forty-seven boys. Two of the tutors were missed, D. W. Abercrombie and Walter Deane, the latter of whom, after seven years of successful teaching and valuable influence as a man, withdrew to teach at Hopkinson's, and was characterized by the Vindex as a kind teacher and friend who would be sadly missed.(66) The interest in baseball was not now as marked as usual, and on the seventeenth of September, 1878, a meeting of the First Eleven was called to elect officers. Van Schaick was again chosen captain, and he kindly offered the Eleven the use of his football."(67) It was decided to use the same grounds as last year, which were large and smooth enough. The positions on the team were called tenders, half-tenders, right rushers, left rushers, and substitute. The games lasted well through January, and did not result very favorably to the green team, which was defeated by Hopkinson's by one goal and two touchdowns to nothing and by Adams Academy by a score of seven goals and six touchdowns. The latter game lasted two hours and a half, with five minutes out. The instructions after the game with Hopkinson's warned the rushers that each ought to play opposite his own man, and that no player should ever run back and call the ball down and should not run at all except towards his opponent's goal, passing the ball if running proved impossible. In a game with the Southborough High School St. Mark's took the lead, and the Southborough team "got disgusted and stopped." There were now four elevens in School, and the fourth had an opportunity to show its mettle against the Fay School.
Indoor activities during the winter were numerous and varied: lectures by Dr. Coolidge, Mr. Peck and others on natural history and geology in connection with the museum; entertainments and lectures, amongst them a concert by the Beethoven Club of Boston and lectures by Stoddard and Wendell; and theatricals by the Dramatic Club. A debating society was also formed and at once enlisted great interest. There was skating and coasting, the former on the Fayville meadows and the latter mostly at the Second Red Mill; gymnasium work; and once a sleighride by day for the whole school in three sleighs to Westborough, Northborough, and back through Marlborough, a distance of twenty miles. The teams trained in the gymnasium, and it is interesting to note that thirty-six times around it made a mile. As spring approached tops, darts and kites appeared, and the squirrel-hunting and bird's-egging began. The nine began practice on the "Upper Field "; and the boat-club started its season with fourteen boats; one four-oar paper shell, one four-oar barge, three paper shells, one working boat, one four-oar lapstreak, three flat-bottomed boats, one wherry, and three Rob Roy canoes. An article on training published in the Vindex gives us an idea of the ambition if not of the practice of an athlete of the day. " Rise at five, and take a cold sponge and a rub-down. After eating an egg beaten in tea, take five-mile run, a cold bath, and another rub-down. For breakfast have a chop, toast, tea, little or no milk, good ale. For dinner, at one o'clock, eat meats, potatoes and greens, but no vegetables within a day or two of the race. An hour after dinner go over the course of the race. Supper should come at six, and consist of cold meats, toast or bread, and tea or ale. After supper take a gentle walk, and go to bed at ten. Don't smoke, drink, or use coffee, and use as little salt and pepper as possible. Don't touch pork or salt food, and have meats roasted, broiled or boiled, never anything fried. Light puddings, figs, jellies, claret and dried fruits are harmless in moderation." It is not difficult for men still living to appreciate that this régime was taken seriously, if not followed in all particulars.
The nine (68) succeeded in getting revenge on Hopkinson's by the score of thirty-one to nineteen; but in general baseball did not flourish with its usual vigor, perhaps because of the attractions of Parker Pond, or because the captain of the team had been obliged to leave school. There were no formal graduating exercises this year, and the last interesting occasion was a picnic by the lake at Berlin, eight miles away, where there were ballgame, rowing, dinner and dancing.
Meanwhile older heads had been busy over the more serious needs of the youthful community. Dr. Coolidge had been empowered to use his own discretion in varying the course of study from classical to scientific, but to report the facts in each instance to the Trustees. At the same meeting, on the twenty-fifth of April, 1879, James Henry Howe of Webster, Mass., was unanimously elected a member of the Board; and the need of having a fifth tutor was discussed, and referred to the Standing Committee. A testimonial in the form of a gold chain was voted to Jonathan Works, the steward, in appreciation of his long and faithful services to the School.
In the fall of 1879 a Lawn Tennis Club was organized, and the game introduced for the first time into the School; but the outlay necessary to provide for everybody's participation was of course possible only by degrees. The Base Ball Club drew up a regular constitution;(69) and with little opposition from football, and none from rowing on account of the lowness of the pond (on which the first crew occasionally appeared in their crimson jerseys) it became the centre of interest, which culminated in a victory of twelve to eleven in seven innings over the Freshmen. The glee over this was unbounded; and after the score in the Vindex we find the lines:
Whether because of this victory or on general principles a great crowd came down from Marlborough and defied the whole School to a free fight; but the invitation was declined, presumably through the influence of authority. The football eleven had been organized, but played no game with Hopkinson's because of some difficulty of which we find no account, and in which the Vindex declares they "showed the white feather plainly." One of the autumn amusements was cooking, which had from time to time engaged some of the boys before, and was now stopped by Dr. Coolidge because of the danger from fire. It was repeatedly revived during the eighties, and was allowed for short periods,---though reluctantly, because of the gastronomic perils from the sadly unprofessional results. Hare and hounds was a better game, and runs of three, and six, and even twelve miles were taken. Seven bicycles had appeared in School, and a shed for them and the sleds was later constructed next to the barn.
The library now consisted of 660 volumes, and was increasing by gifts from graduates. The Debating Society and the Dramatic Society hung fire for some time, but it was during this winter that the Athletic Association was formed, through the efforts of B. F. Harding, and something like the formality of a regular event given to the winter and the spring sports. The records in these, though thought to be good, could not be ascertained because of the lack of experienced timers. Some of the events were the tug-of-war, bicycle-race, crew race, standing long jump, hop skip and jump, and three-legged race. But baseball was declared to be "the standard game of this School, and one to be supported in preference to all other sports." There were now four masters on the nine; yet, as one who played himself in the seventies observed, no objection was ever made by opponents. The remarkable success in baseball attained by the School in later years perhaps indicates that the force of tradition is greater than we are conscious of. In the course of three or four months, and in spite of the season of the year, bicycling became popular, and the high wheels could be seen ploughing through the mud and occasionally hurling their riders through a long arc into it; but the devotees continued, scorning torn and muddy garments and hands purple from the cold. In the spring of 1880 it was possible to wade across the pond, and little rowing was attempted; but the baseball profited thereby, and several games were played, in one of which St. Mark's piled up forty runs, and their opponents, the High School, thirty-seven errors. The Whigs and the Tories, nines made up of the best players, had two games, which the former won by large but close scores. Finally, "according to time-honored custom, Mr. Burnett kindly furnished teams to take the School to Berlin on the anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill." The prize day exercises were held at the School instead of at the Town Hall, and Governor Rice was the principal speaker. Mr. Joseph Burnett's family had returned to Southborough after an absence of two years, and he now at once revived the old custom of inviting the School to his house in the evening.
The School was in thriving condition in the autumn of 1880, and the Trustees had already begun to see that new buildings or additions were going to be necessary. A committee was appointed to report on an appropriate site and plans for a new School building or buildings, with a view to future action, should such action at any time become possible. This hope had been suggested by the strong financial condition of the School, due to Joseph Burnett's management. But for the present the fire protection was improved, money was granted for occasional lectures for the "instruction and edification of the pupils," the debt was greatly reduced, and the subject of "providing accommodations for the bicycles, now numbering twenty-eight," was referred to the Standing Committee. The building had been made more homelike by the hanging of six very large photographs given by Mr. Burnett: the Coliseum, St. Peter's, the Castle of Saint Angelo, the Forum, the Arch of Constantine, and the Pantheon; a water color of a Roman villa with St. Peter's in the distance, painted and given by Mrs. E. M. Burrows; and a picture of Lake Maggiore given by one of the boys, George F. Harding. Most of these at present hang in the lower corridors of the School.
Mr. Harding had left to go to St. Paul's, and one of the new men was H. O. Apthorp, who afterwards put Milton Academy in a position to become one of the best schools in the country. There were forty-eight boys in School, and the term began with great enthusiasm for tennis; three clubs were formed, of about ten members each, and expenses were met by charging non-members and visitors ten cents to play. The Whigs and the Tories played baseball and the bicyclists took long rides, from which they sometimes returned by train. Football began with a successful game against a town team and a defeat of three touchdowns to one(70) from Hopkinson's and Noble's. There were now two backs on a team, three half-backs, and six undistinguished rushers. The Trustees had on petition from the boys fitted up the gymnasium, which was now heated for the first time, and was as usual frequented throughout the winter. At the sports held the twenty-second of February a prize was offered for general athletic excellence, with the announcement that it was intended to make this a prize of real value; but it was not for several years that D. B. Fearing inaugurated the greatly valued prize which bears his name. T. P. Burgess, who afterwards played on the Harvard football team, was the winner.
The winter amusements were varied this year by a course of twenty lessons in dancing given in the Town Hall by Miss Hunt, of Boston; and with visions of a german in the future the Vindex exhorted everybody to go to learn how to dance, and not to be clownish and "unnecessarily" stupid. The Vindex itself throve, and engaged in a prolonged literary battle with the Greylock Monthly, one of whose articles it proved by the parallel column method not to be as nearly original as it should have been. The activities of St. Mark's graduates in college were always followed with interest and pride, and the "Brevities" column omitted no detail of the School's doings, and discharged excellently its duty as chronicler. Its remarks on the qualifications of the nine are interesting: "the candidates for the nine have grown very heavy during the winter term, and most of them, by constant gymnasium practice, have put themselves in splendid condition. With such a heavy set there is no reason why the nine should not be a good one, and well represent the School in the only sport in which she has a record." There is a note to the effect that Gordon Dexter, a former schoolmate, brought with him some very handsome flowers for decorating the church on Easter Sunday; an eloquent bit of testimony for the interest and affection of the graduates. On the nineteenth of April the hoped-for german materialized. In the morning everybody went to the station to meet the girls who were coming from town, and escorted them to luncheon at the School. Flags were flying from the school windows, "for the benefit of three sick boys in the hospital." The orchestra at the Town Hall consisted of piano, cornet, clarinet, the bass-viol, and the dances of the polka-redowa, Portland fancy, lancers, Virginia reel and german. After the day was over the girls were escorted to the station and cheered as their train departed.
The baseball season seems to have marked the transition from the old straight-arm pitching to underhand throwing, a change which was somewhat lamented because the former was so much easier to hit. The quotation above from the Vindex indicates that hard hitting was regarded as a greater factor in winning than good playing. But other schools had adopted the innovation, and there was no alternative for St. Mark's unless the School was to be content with Whig and Tory games.
In the fall of 1881 payment was made of the sum due on the transept in the Parish Church, a matter which had long interested Dr. Coolidge. At a meeting of the Trustees it was decided that the offertory at Church by the boys be made entirely voluntary, and that the duty and practice of giving be impressed on them, but not enforced. The previous method had been to provide each boy with twenty-five cents for contribution; but a suspiciously large number of ten and five cent pieces convinced the wise Headmaster that this plan was unsuccessful both for the church and for the boy. Two other votes of the Board at this meeting were that the vote passed in 1866 in regard to visits of Trustees to the School be rescinded; and that there should be thirty-eight weeks of instruction in each school year.
There were never so many sports as in the fall of 1881, but with fifty-three boys it was possible to arrange them so that they would not interfere with one another. There was a tennis tournament on the eighth of October, with prizes given by the ladies, silver scarf-pins in the form of racquets. A remarkable game of baseball between the School and the Town nine stood in favor of the latter by the score of eighteen to seventeen at the end of the first half of the ninth inning; but in the second half St. Mark's made sixteen runs, fifteen of them after two men were out. Football seemed to be asserting its claim as the autumn sport, however, and a victory over Adams Academy by three touchdowns to one was described as the hardest fought and most scientific struggle the School had ever engaged in. The "quarter-back" appears with two half-backs this fall, instead of three half-backs. The season was in general successful, Hopkinson's and Noble's being beaten by four touchdowns to one.
In November the custom was introduced of posting at the end of each month with the usual rank list a list of boys who for diligent application to their studies and good behavior were deserving of honorable mention, the names of such boys to be sent with their monthly reports to their respective parents.(71) At this time another event of scholastic interest was the coming to Southborough of M. de Bussigny, a Frenchman of good family and education, who had spent most of his life in Paris. He did not become an instructor at the School, but gave lessons to ambitious linguists who cared to study pronunciation.
With a play by the Dramatic Club, dancing lessons again, and boxing lessons given to a class organized by Mr. Apthorp the fall passed into a winter of exceptionally good coasting and cold weather, the thermometer in January once reaching fifteen below zero. Mrs. Coolidge added great interest to the dancing-classes by inviting two or three girls up from the city every Thursday afternoon, and after the course of lessons came the german, with forty-five girl guests. The interest in baseball seems not to have been as general as usual, perhaps because the game had become more scientific and afforded less pure amusement; but the sports were very successful. On the twenty-second of May bicycle races were held, including a slow race, a very difficult contest on the high wheels.
At a meeting of the Trustees on the first of July in Boston, after the close of the School, it was resolved that the Headmaster be given leave of absence for one year with continued salary, and the hope was expressed that he might find it consistent with his own convenience to employ the time in foreign travel. To this Dr. Coolidge replied that he was unable to accept the offer, and in the same letter sent his resignation as Headmaster. The resignation was accepted, and warm appreciation expressed of the value of Dr. Coolidge's services during the nine years of his administration, besides a recognition of the services rendered by his family, special mention being made of Mrs. Coolidge's marked efficiency, warm-heartedness and fidelity, which had made her not only the "trusted guardian of the household interests of the School," but the personal friend of all under its roof. A sum of money was presented to Dr. and Mrs. Coolidge as a token of esteem and good-will. Upon motion of Mr. Foster it was voted that Mr. William E. Peck be appointed Acting Headmaster until further action. A committee was appointed with full power to select a chaplain and a matron, and at the meeting on the eighteenth of October the appointments were announced of the Rev. John Rice and Mrs. Louisa T. Clark.
It was with great grief that Dr. Coolidge left his successful and congenial work, and the evidence of those who were in the School at the time shows that this was fully shared by his boys. The nature of his contribution to the School's character and development, which has already been sufficiently indicated by quotation from those of them who remember him, was very timely.(72) Scholarship and a respect for formal discipline, however imperfect the administration of the latter may have been, had been built by Dr. Lowell on the broad ideals of Mr. Patterson; and Dr. Coolidge, while guarding the inheritance carefully and efficiently, gave to the vigorous community the personal touch of sympathy, toleration and personal interest which brought them to fruition, and gave the School its full opportunity.