Letter No. 2
Christian Recorder: September 5, 1863
Mr. Editor:--Last week I closed my article by giving a short sketch of Prof J. G. Mitchell, if my recollection serves me right, though I am sorry that I did not preserve a copy to see where I left off at. However, I will commence by referring to him again. Prof. Mitchell is a graduate of Oberlin College, which College, for his great literary attainments, honored him with that distinguished title, both as a mark of its high appreciation for him, and as an evidence that he literally merits the respect of the learned, and the confidence and patronage of all desiring thus to be.
Toughing his habits, it may be out of place to remark, that he is early to bed, and early to rise; that he holds no affinity to those practices which too often so prey upon the human system, that they are left a mere vegetating wreck upon the sands of time, when they should be in the vigor and bloom of usefulness. He holds all narcotics in a most despicable aversion, or in other words, he looks upon tobacco chewing, segar and pipe-smoking, whisky-drinking, &c., as objects so stained with the blood of human victims, that none who are disposed to act justly to themselves should never be found tampering with them. Who then, I ask, can calculate the value of one whose habits of life are so exemplary, at the head of an Institution, which is destined in God’s providence to prove itself such amicus humani generis, for I think the scope does not embody too much!
Again, his worth scholastically is equal in every respect to it, in deportment, though that question is settled in the above remarks. Touching his capacity to manage, and to control his students, I think I can say, from what I learned from others, and physiognomically read, as well as from what I gesticulatorily surmised, while in his company, that neither nature nor art could produce a superior. The first thing which very peculiarly fits him for a governor, is the extraordinary self-government which he possesses. Teachers generally bring their pupils into sympathy with themselves, and like so begets like, that the controlled will often imbibe the habits, manners, and genial eccentricities of the controllers; for it is invariably the case, wherever you find teachers or parents with no order in themselves, the children committed to their care will be equally without order, and immethodical in every thing they do, even to sitting upon their seats. God has arranged the force of human action so that it cannot be inadvertently disposed of, without a consciousness of moral obligation; for it is not the mouth alone which receives its impulse from the heart. But from it flows the force of all our actions, and those external manifestations, which are read, heard, admired or hated in us, and each one is expressive of an influence good or bad.
Now if the Professor is thus fitted by nature, what a paragon for emulation must he be, and how valuable to Wilberforce University. I think to proceed further in this train of argument would be superfluous. I therefore will next speak of its advantages from another aspect or consideration. The Wilberforce University is surrounded with a high-toned class of people, giving to the students from a distance, however aristocratical they may presume themselves, the best association that can be desired. This is an advantage rarely attained in connection with scholastic opportunities, the expediency of which to the end of life, rises in such superlative grandeur.
Besides, it is not enclosed by brick walls, and studded with iron picks, or spurs, as though a person was shut up in a penitentiary for some base crime. But, on the contrary, while it is enclosed with a very neat fence, the student can have the most extensive scope for muscular development, and all those healthy exercises which prolong our day, and make life pleasant; another inducement of great value.
For this must yet constitute a part of our education, though it has hitherto been most shamefully neglected. The Latin adage is, mans soma in corpore sano, which sets forth the necessity of a double education, one to strengthen and healthily tone the body, and the other, to keep the mind in a vigorous and intellectual mood.
I have thrown these few thoughts out on pencil and paper. I hope you may be able to make them out, if they are of any value.
Washington, August 27, 1863