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Vincit qui patitur: THE TRIALS OF A GREAT-HEARTED BISHOP

December 6, 2015 Leave a comment
diram qui contudit hydram Ev’n he who crush’d the far-famed Hydra’s rage
notaque fatali portenta labore And dared so long a fateful war to wage
subegit, With monsters dire, those monsters all o’erthrown,
comperit invidiam supremo Found Envy could be quell’d by Death alone.
fine domari. — Horace Ep. 2.1.10-12 Tr. Francis Howes (London 1845)
George Washington Doane, the Bishop of New Jersey 1832-1859, in an early photograph. Brady-Handy Collection, Library of Congress.

George Washington Doane, Bishop of New Jersey 1832-1859, in an early photograph. Brady-Handy Collection, Library of Congress.

A tale is told that in Burlington, one October morning, a snake met a swift and grisly end beneath the heel of George Washington Doane.

On the streets of a small riverfront city of the mid-1800s, seeing a snake would have been fairly commonplace, but the man in this encounter was far from ordinary. Soon to complete his twentieth year as the bishop of New Jersey, he had long held a place of eminence not only in his church but in the civic and cultural life of the state and nation. Thanks to a rare combination of exceptional intellect, talent and zeal, together with a genial nature and seemingly boundless energy, he was at once venerated and controversial. Any preacher might have thought, as he “kicked the now harmless carcass off the sidewalk, and quietly went on his way,” of the biblical curse on the serpent, doomed to eternal enmity with the human race. But on this day Doane faced a more personal foe: he was fighting for his very survival as a bishop, and this had emerged as a day of destiny.[1]

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Hic inter flumina nota : IN THE STEPS OF THE NEW JERSEY VERGIL

December 5, 2015 1 comment

 

A view of Crosswicks Creek from the former estate of Joseph Bonaparte, Bordentown.

For centuries, familiarity with Vergil’s poetry was such that the employment of his verses in inscriptions could be habitual, even unconscious. While these traces are far less frequent in the Garden State than in places of greater antiquity, the poet is no stranger to our landscape. Most citations still to be found are conscious and deliberate, and each has a story to tell. Read more…

EXEMPLARIA VITAE MORVMQVE

The main entrance to Memorial Hall, on the campus of The Lawrenceville School. In Owen Johnson’s story The Varmint, Memorial Hall became “the abode of Greek and Latin roots, syntax and dates, of blackboards, hard seats and the despotism of the Faculty.”

In the first-century debate about whether to send young children to school or educate them at home, Marcus Fabius Quintilianus was squarely on the side of school.

The two major assumptions in favor of home instruction – that schools corrupt morals, and that a child will get more individual attention from a private tutor – did not sway the author of Institutio oratoria.  The morals of the young, according to Quintilian, could be as easily corrupted at home,[1]  and children could be as effectively taught at school – even in a large one, for the best instructors tended to attract the greatest numbers of  scholars.   Read more…

Omnia Mors Æquat : REMEMBERING A JERSEY PROPRIETOR

January 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Coat of arms from the tomb of David Lyell, with motto “Sedulo et Honeste” above the crest.

The language spoken by New Jersey’s aboriginal peoples lives on in many of its place names, notably those of rivers and creeks on which the lives of the Lenape depended.  They include the Musconetcong, Assunpink, Crosswicks, Rancocas and Cohansey, all flowing more or less westward, and the Metedeconk, Manasquan, Raritan and Passaic, which drain in the direction of New Jersey’s eastern shores.

For centuries, these and many smaller waterways have guided the migrations and settlement patterns of indigenous inhabitants and newcomers alike.  The name of one, Topanemus Brook in Monmouth County, first appears in 1686, in the record of a sale by five “Indian owners and Sachems” to the British proprietors of East New Jersey.  Read more…

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