By Dennis J. Kavenaugh, S. J.
INTERESTING FACTS CONCERNING THE EARLY MISSIONARY EDUCATORS AND THE GREAT COLLEGE OF SANTA CLARA--THE EARLY MEXICAN POLICY--ROMANCE OF THE OLD DAYS--SOME ILLUSTRIOUS GRADUATES OF THE OLD SCHOOL--HEROIC AMBITION OF THE FOUNDERS--HOW SKILLFUL TEACHERS DIRECT THEIR CHARGES IN A PICTURESQUE LOCATION--FACTS ABOUT THE PASSION PLAY AS PRODUCED BY STUDENTS--THE SURROUNDINGS A PALM GARDEN AND OLIVE TREES--FACTS ABOUT THE BUILDINGS
From the day when, for purposes best known to itself, the Mexican government secularized the Franciscan missions of California, the historian must trace the gradual decay and final collapse of some of those glorious monuments, the primitive adobe buildings, which marked the path of Christian conquest and dawn of civilization in the rugged wilds of the west. With the secularization came greed, in many cases cruel greed, and the work of the Padres came to a dead halt. Their buildings scattered through Serraland began to crumble in the dust and had not the more tolerant spirit of Americanism been wafted to these shores in the early fifties, there would be nothing now, but heaps of adobe mingling with fragments of red tile, to tell the story of self-sacrifice and devotion to noble enterprises with which California was subdued. Had the work of secularization been unimpeded, the future of all the missions would have been the same; razed to the ground, they would have presented but a chaotic heap of debris, or if an occasional arch stood out from the ruins, it might have served for an artist's sketch, but beyond that it would have been lost to historic research.
But American tolerance made it possible to preserve some of those primitive structures, and zeal, similar to that of the early Franciscans, preserved them. Such at least was the case with Mission Santa Clara, founded in 1777 by Fathers Junipero Serra, Murguia and de la Pena, and taken in charge by the Jesuit priest, John Nobili, in March, 1851, as the first American college of the west. By diligent repairing the mission building was preserved and stands today, in great part, as it stood well-nigh one hundred years ago, as a trophy snatched from the devastating influence of irreligion and neglect. Well-nigh one hundred years ago, we say, because the present building was not begun until 1818, after a severe earthquake had weakened the former church and cloister, built in 1781, and had made further use somewhat hazardous.
What now remains was fortunately exempt until 1836 from Mexican control; for though it was in 1828 that the congress passed their act of liberating the Indians,--that is of liberating them from Mexican influence, a rather doubtful form of liberation as was subsequently made evident,--it was not until 1836 that the scheme was carried into effect at Santa Clara. As elsewhere the flourishing community of Christian Indians died away, the fields were neglected, and the buildings, exposed to the corroding influences of the weather, had taken on a somewhat tottering aspect. Some time during the period of devastation, William Cullen Bryant passed through Santa Clara and he has given us in his book, "What I Saw in California," a pretty faithful picture of the havoc caused by Mexican rule.
"The rich lands surrounding the Mission of Santa Clara," he writes, "are entirely neglected. I did not notice a foot of ground under cultivation except the garden enclosed, which contained a variety of fruits and plants of the temperate and tropical climate. From want of care these are fast decaying. the picture of decay and ruin presented by this once flourishing establishment, surrounded by a country so fertile and scenery so enchanting is a melancholy spectacle to the passing traveler and speaks a language of loud condemnation against the government."
Such, then, is the history, in brief, of the buildings which in 1851 were converted into Santa Clara College. For several years previous to the actual beginning of education on the coast, attempts had been made to secure some Jesuits from the Rocky Mountains where the sons of Loyola had some very flourishing missions among the native tribes. Accordingly in 1849 Fathers Accolti and Nobili left their missions in Oregon to comply with the request of Father J. M. de F. Gonzalez, who was anxious to have some co-workers in this part of the vineyard. The trety of 1848 had already confirmed American possession of California and so the two Jesuits were but changing their field of labor, not the conditions of living. Reaching San Jose, the then capital of the state, they were given charge of the Pueblo church, where they worked together until in the middle of 1850, Father Accolti, recalled to the worthwest, left his companion alone in a strange land, surrounded by the rough and uncouth elements of border life. There was now no hope of establishing a college and, as we would be inclined to judge from our present position, no demand and no possibility of profit.
when there was question, about the same time, some fifty years ago, of establishing a university in Ireland, people were heard to say on all sides (so we are told by Cardinal Newman) "Impossible! How can you give the degrees? What will your degrees be worth? Where are your endowments? Where are your edifices? Where will you find students? What will the government have to say to you? Who will acknowledge you?" These, and similar questions must have occurred to the solitary Jesuit who in 1851 was commissioned by the Most Rev. Joseph Sadoc Alemany, archbishop of San Francisco, to open a college at Santa Clara. but that he answered them successfully and to his own satisfaction, we may judge from the fact that, having been commissioned by his superior, he set out for Santa Clara at once and took possession of the old mission buildings. It was on March 19th that the college was declared ready to receive students and that twelve youngsters enrolled their names on the register of California's first institution of learning. Father Nobili began his work with a capital of one hundred and fifty dollars, with two assistant professors, an Indian cook and a woman servant. the four last named were to receive salaries and though one month would almost exhaust the treasury, the pioneer educator went on with his work nothing daunted.
The history of the primitive days is romantic. The college buildings were, as we have seen, in a tumble-down condition; the adobe walls were craked; the tiles of the roof shattered and loose, so loose in fact, that the rain poured freely into the rooms, making life therein at once miserable and unwholesome. We cannot imagine the dificulties that had to be surmounted, but if we had seen the first president of Santa Clara, himself a graduate of the Roman College and a brilliant physicist, mathematician and litterateur, going from class-room to class-room and then, when the day's work of teaching was over, supervising and taking personal part in the work of reconstruction and general cleaning, we would readily admit that the college was in truth begun under difficult circumstances. Under Father Nobili's direction the roofs were patched, the walls strengthened and the entire cloister given a general living aspect after the slumber of fifteen years.
Such devotedness could not but win esteem for the man and respect for an institution which in all other regards was extremely despicable. As a matter of fact it did attract the attention of the then inhabitants of California, so that at the close of the first scholastic year, the college register contained as many as forty-five names.
It will be of historic interest to give these names here inasmuch as some of the families represented and the young men themselves are well known in the pioneer and subsequent history of the state.
|Resident Students||Non-Resident Students|
|Martin Murphy,||John Burnett,|
|Manuel Varela,||Charles H. Forbes,|
|Henry A. Cobb,||Miguel Forbes,|
|Bernard Murphy,||James Forbes,|
|Emilio Carpenas,||Joaquin Arques,|
|Andres Martinez,||Alpheus Bascom,|
|John Hulton,||Joaquin Hernandez,|
|Enrique Davini,||Dolores Miranda,|
|James Fuller,||William Menton,|
|Edmund Munfrey,||Ignacio Alviso,|
|Israel Levy,||John Hulbert,|
|Lemuel Jones,||Armstead Burnett,|
|Patrick Murphy,||James Alexander Forbes,|
|Adolphe Servantius,||Frederick Forbes,|
|Frank W. Grimes,||Luis Forbes,|
|John Thomas Colahan,||Dolores Sunol,|
|Edward Hulton,||Andronico Dye,|
|Charles Martin,||Jose Maria Miramontes,|
|William Brown,||Hugh Menton,|
|Andrew Roland,||Carl Wampach,|
|Nathan Levy,||Jose Pinero.|
With such a goodly number the first year of Santa Clara came to a close contrary to the adverse predictions of some few wiseacres. It was some time in February that the perpetuity of the good work was feared for. Whether doubts were expressed by letter or in a printed article we have not been able to ascertain; all we know is that the first president wrote to the editors of the Picayune reassuring them of the solid basis on which his institution rested. "We do not claim for it," he writes, "even the name of a college, but have looked upon it merely as a select boarding and day school; the germ only of such an institution as we would wish to make it and as the wants of the community will require. We have issued no regular prospectus nor did we intend doing so until we should be able to enlarge and fit up the establishment so as to put it on an equal footing with the other colleges of the order. * * * With us the good of our pupils, not their money, is a primary object. * * * We have at present fourteen boarders and fifteen days scholars. * * * The rule of prepayment was not rigidly enforced in the past year during which time it is well known that our current expenses far exceeded the income derived from our pupils. You need have no fear as to the college's permanency. Had pecuniary profit been our object in its establishment, it would have run its course and ceased to exist many months ago. We commenced and carried it out at a great sacrifice. No effort on our part shall be spared to conduct it in such a manner as to justify the hopes of our friends and merit the confidence of the public."
This letter, besides showing the broad principles on which Santa Clara College was built, manifests a nobility of character which the historian connot well pass over in silence. The name of the Rev. John Nobili is one of which California may well feel proud. True he was a Jesuit, and a Catholic priest, but so were Marquette and Joliet. We have other famous names intimately connected with California's history; but we have not so many that we can afford to forget our pioneer educator. John Nobili was born in Rome, April 8, 1812; he entered the Roman College at the age of thirteen, whence he was graduated with honors some seven years later. While still a young man he published in his native Italian language several works on physics and mathematics and later, at his own request, was sent by his superior to labor among the Indians of Montana and Oregon. In 1849, as we have stated above, he came to California and founded Santa Clara College of which until his death in 1856 he was the actual president. Zeal for souls was Father Nobili's characteristic trait. In the class-room, on sick-calls, in supervising his own improvements he always had some motive of zeal to animate him, some high principle to guide him. Unsparing of self, though of delicate health, he was as gentle as a lamb to those with whom he had to deal. The students recognized this, and while dreading him as their master they revered and loved him as a father.
Such as the man who founded Santa Clara College and who alone amid innumerable difficulties guided it safely through its first six months of existence, attending all the while to the work of two parishes, San Jose and Santa Clara, teaching three, sometimes four hours a day, straightening out the complicated legal title of the mission property and sleeping in the students' dormitory by night. But he was not destined to continue the work alone for any great length of time. Early in February, 1852, and almost unexpectedly, there arrived from Oregon three fellow-Jesuits, Fathers de Vos, Goetz and Veyret. Like Father Nobili these men had left their native land for missionary work and like him they were ready for whatever hardships that work entailed. The four labored together like pioneer champions, as they were, and succeeded in putting the newly established college on a solid footing, so solid, in fact, that Father Accolti, who visited Santa Clara toward the close of 1852, was able to give his impressions of the institution in very glowing terms. "Although this college was in those times" (he is referring to the date of his visit), "in a state of rudimentary formation, still all that could be desired was taught; english, French, Spanish, Latin, Greek, Mathematics, Physics, Surveying, Music, etc. And the pupils profited so well that their public examinations and exhibitions amazed those who were present, and our new college of Santa Clara has so increased in reputation that the best families, even Protestant, have no objection to send their children to it."
In view of this reputation the student body continued to increase and in 1855 the statelegislature endowed the institution with the charter of a university, giving power of conferring academic degrees. This privilege increased the number of pupils and before the year was well begun there were as many as one hundred and eleven on the college register. Fortunately the teaching staff had been increased by the timely arrival of sixteen young Jesuit professors. These new arrivals were for the most part Italian exiles who, driven from their native land before the social and political storms of 1848, sought refuge in America and having studied English in eastern colleges of the Jesuit order, came westward to devote their life and energies to the work of instructing the young generation of California. it is well that this fact be borne in mind, for as we advance in this narrative we shall find that nearly all the men to whom Santa Clara owes its progress, are of Italian birth and education.
In 1855, then, the school year opened with twenty teachers and one hundred and eleven pupils, and up to this time there were no additional buildings! How could so many pupils and professors be accommodated? This is a question to which the historian has sought an answer but without any satisfactory results. They were not accommodated at all, seems to express the real state of affairs. They were pioneers and the life of a pioneer has its inconveniences and romance; it has, and needs must have, its incommodities. Any one who understands the nature of a mission quadrangle will readily anticipate the inconveniences necessarily connected with the first years of Santa Clara. A long one-story quadrilateral with a church on one side, a wall opposite and on the two remaining sides rooms facing into the inner garden formed the primitive college. These rooms were divided as best they might into four dormitories, a kitchen, a dining-room, a study hall and private rooms for the fathers and secular professors. Two of the Jesuits, Fathers Masnata and Messea, were not so blessed as to have a private room and were wont to sleep on the benches of the study hall, or even, when the weather permitted it, on the porticos beneath the stars. They did not suffer from the hardship, however, for they both lived to be octogenarians, Father Masnata, indeed, dying at the age of eighty-two, and Father Messea reaching his eighty-sixth year. But for class-rooms, play-rooms, and the thousand other conveniences of a modern college? We can do no better than run through the day's horarium to give an answer to these questions and an idea of those primitive times.
A little hand bell is sounded at 6 a. m. and the students aroused from healthful slumbers roll out for the day's work, though some have already been up since five, studying by candle light. [Note--The writer has been informed by an old pioneer father, that D. M. Delmas, now one of California's first orators, made it a constant practice to arise at five, and with the aid of his candle prepare his daily lessons.] Their time is limited, and in less than fifteen minutes a crowd of youngsters with dishevelled hair is seen trooping to a water-fount in the center of the inner garden. Morning ablutions finished in this crude fashion, the bell announces the hour for church services, and one and all they betake themselves to the old Mission Church for mass and rosary. Breakfast is served by Philip, an old Indian cook, whose culinary experiences are not very extensive. He does his best, however, and the students, as much imbued with the pioneer spirit as the Fathers, are satisfied with their humble fare, and after a short recreation they prepare themselves for class. Class,--where is it held? If the weather permits, professor and students find out some quiet corner of the garden and begin the work of the day; otherwise the pupils are called into the private rooms and listen to the lecturer who has converted his bed into a desk. Thus the day passes; recreation, class, regular meals, and now that darkness has set in all are gathered in a bare hall, huddled together almost, at a common desk, each supplied with a candle, each intent upon his next day's tasks. At nine they retire to sleep the sleep of satisfaction.
Such was the actual program until the end of the school year '54-'55. The next year saw many additions, both in building and educational appointments. The principal addition in the line of building consisted in the purchase of the "California Hotel." The Fathers were jubilant over the successful purchase of this secular edifice that had been built almost in the very shadow of the mission sanctuary. In the college catalogue of 1855, they announce the purchase thus: "In the course of last year a large structure, containing eight spacious classrooms and a well ventilated dormitory, one hundred and ten feet long and forty feet wide, was added to the college buildings."
Together with this material expansion, humble though it was, there was a marked growth in another and more important direction. A library of some ten thousand volumes, the largest in the state at the time, had been added to the college. The books were principally of educational value; a complete set of the ancient classics, a respectable collection of English literary works, several scientific treatises and reference books in abundance. Together with the library a physical cabinet had been fitted out "with apparatus comprising all recent improvements," which were brought all the way from Paris. Nor was the moral element neglected. A chapel begun in 1854 was rapidly approaching completion, though owing to the death of Father Nobili, it was not finished until 1856.
The Rev. Nicholas Congiato succeeded Father Nobili, and an able successor he was in all truth. The life of this second president reads like a novel. He was a man of extensive and exceptional experience; he had been vice president of the Jesuit College of Nobles, Sardinia, and of the College of Freiburg, Switzerland, and was imprisoned by the Italian revolutionists of '47 for his profession of Jesuit vows. Released the same year, he came to America and crossed the plains for the Indian missions in Oregon in 1848. Later, having been ordered by superiors to Bardstown, Kentucky, he retraced his steps alone and unacquainted with the country, and after some six months reached his destination, where he was, to his chagrin, for he preferred missionry life, given charge of St. Joseph's College. Soon afterward he obtained permission to return to the west and again crossed the prairies to act as Superior General of both the Californian and the Oregon Jesuits. It was even while fulfilling this difficult office that he was chosen to succeed Father Nobili as president of Santa Clara College. The work and responsibility of such an appointment would have been too much for an ordinary man; but the Rev. Nicholas Congiato was not an ordinary man. Even at the advanced age of eighty, when in retirement at the Sacred Heart Novitiate, Los Gatos, he was loath to be idle, and till within a few months of his death he utilized his time by teaching his younger brethren in religion. His funeral, which occurred in May, 1897, was a memorable event in Santa Clara Valley. All the old pioneer settlers and hundreds of the younger generation turned out to pay their last tribute of respect to one who had spent so long a life for the betterment of his fellow-men.
We have seen how the College had advanced during the first years of its existence, further developments under the circumstances seemed imossible, but the energetic activity Father Congiato kept up the progressive spirit. It was during his incumbency that the Literary Congress was inaugurated. This Congress is a debating society unique in the annals of education in America. Originated at Santa Clara it has since been introduced into several eastern colleges and universities. Composed of two coordinate branches, the Philalethic Senate and the House of Philhistorians, it is in form and method of procedure modeled after the Congress at Washington, the president of the College filling ex-officio the place of the executive. That this system has worked successfully is evidenced from the fact that the most of Santa Clara's prominent alumni, of whom we shall have occasion to speak leter, began their career as orators in the Philalethic Assembly Hall. Other events marked the presidency of Father Congiato, short though it was, of which the mere mention is sufficient. He instituted a system of public examination for such as sought academic honors (Note: At one of these examinations Thomas Bergin, whose subsequent success in the law has made him famous, presented himself before the public and the board of examiners, "Prepared on twenty-four books of the Iliad"); he brought Father Nobili's Chapel to a finish; he erected an Auditorium on the campus, crude indeed and humble, but rendered famous by the names of Clay M. Greene, John T. Malone, and Carolton, who won their first dramatic honors in that same humble theatre.
While Father Congiato was thus working to make the college a fit home for education, he had other serious duties to attend to, for, as we have seen, he was Superior General of the whole Jesuit community in the west. Stress of business, therefore, and failing health compelled him to give the charge of the college into the hands of the Rev. Felix Cicaterri. The new president was, like his predecessor, an exile of Italy. Born in Venice in 1804, he received a liberal education in his native city, entered the Society of Jesus in the twenties, taught literature, Italian and Classical, for fourteen years, and in 1848 was elected president of the Jesuit college at Vienna. He had hardly begun his work, however, when the storm of persecution against the Jesuits broke violently throughout the Peninsula and forced him to seek refuge in other lands. For several years prior tohis arrival in California he taught at St. John's College, Fordham, and at Georgetown University. He was chosen president of Santa Clara a year after his arrival.
The completion of the Physical Cabinet was the chief feature of Cicaterri's presidency. Science in the fifties was not what it is now; scientific apparatus were not easily obtained, but with European ideas of what a college ought to be, the early Fathers sent to Paris for all the articles necessary to complete their cabinet. We read in the college catalogue of 1856-57 the proud announcement that "A complete Philosophical and Chemical apparatus from the best manufacturers in Paris, which cost the institution nearly ten thousand dollars, and a large collection of specimens of minerals imported from Paris" had been added to the already well furnished laboratories. The apparatus contained twenty-eight instruments for experiments in mechnics, twenty-five for hydraulics, fifty-two pneumatics, sixty for heat, fifty for electricity, fifty-nine for experiments in galvanism and magnetism, sixty-nine for optics, and a complete Daguerreotyping apparatus. It was indeed a complete apparatus for the time and it is doubtful whether any other institution in the country could have boasted of a bettery supply.
The expense thus incurred is a sufficient explanation of the comparative standstill in the building direction. Already California was making rapid strides toward the wealth and influence which has since characterized this western state; but Santa Clara was developing along other lines. The regents having to choose between th essentials of education and merely subsidiary improvements, chose the former. They might have put whatever little money they had into buildings and accommodations; they might have attended to outward appearances before giving their establishment inner worth; but accustomed as all the regents and professors were to solid mental training, they were lavish in procuring the more imortant articles before attempting what, though good in itself and even necessary now, had from an educational standpoint no value other than show and eclat. and so they continued, these early Fathers, procuring books and scientific necessaries and competent professors, with no other hope, no other reward than that of helping their students to increase in wisdom and grace before God and man. Indeed, no marked advance was made in building, until the arrival of the Rev. Burchard Villiger in 1861. Father Villiger tells us in his own words the nature of the improvements which he made:
"Perceiving," he writes in an autobiographical sketch, "that arrangements were making for the Southern Pacific Railroad to pass through the town I said to the Fathers: 'We shall never be able to get out of debt unless we first run deeper into debt and give the College a decent external appearance.' All agreed unanimously. Plans and bargains were made; a great number of mechanics and laborers were employed to begin and finish the work in the least possible time. And so it was done to the astonishment of the town and the surprise of the travelers of California. * * * First we raised a front building 200 feet in length and over 40 feet in width, three stories high, with a center portion of four stories. Then the front of the old church was renovated with a fine portal and two tasteful towers and a large public ornamental square was laid out in front of the church. Next came an elevation of the western wing 240 feet in length with rectangular return toward the church of 100 feet. Finally we reared a separate building as a precaution against conflagration. This building has a front toward the town in the west, 100 feet in length, with two rectangular wings decorated with verandas and stairways for each of the three stories. the center is surrounded by an elegant belfry 100 feet in height."
Father Villiger was the first of the presidents, and the only one until the appointment of the Rev. Robert E. Kenna, in 1883, who was not an Italian exile; but like his predecessors, and most of his successors, he too was a fugitive from revolutionary hatred. the difference between his career and that of his Italian brethren is that Father Villiger escaped with greater difficulties because the revolutionists of Switzerland were more diligent in searching out and imprisoning the Jesuits, than were the revolutionists of Italy. But he escaped none the less and embarked for America in 1848. For twelve years he was Superior of eastern colleges, and backed by the experience thus acquired he came to Santa Clara as we have seen, in 1861. Besides the material improvements mentioned above, Father Villiger was untiring in perfecting the interior discipline of the College. One of the noteworthy incidents of his presidency was the presentation of a drama for the benefit of the wounded soldiers of the Civil war. The drama was well attended, and though the College was deeply sunk in debt it was able to contribute in its humble way toward relieving the heroes of the war.
As the College had taken such gigantic strides under Father Villiger, his successor, the Rev. Aloysius Masnata, had little or nothing to do except keep up the high standard which the College had already reached in studies and general discipline. The next president, however, a man of indomitable energy, the Rev. Aloysius Varsi, was not content with what had been already accomplished. The rapid growth of this country consequent on the opening of the railroads demanded similar developments at Santa Clara. People were flocking westward and great prospects were open to the College if it could offer suitable accommodations. Father Varsi took in the situation and began the stately edifice since known as the College Hall. It was a magnificent structure for the time, though at present it cannot compare with our educational buildings scattered so lavishly through the state.
In 1871, while Father Varsi was still president and under his patronage, the California Historical Society was founded at the College. On June 6 the members assembled for the first time and in the assembly were to be counted California's most prominent men. Among those who responded to the first call of Father Varsi were John T. Doyle, John W. Devineville and Tiburcio Parrott, while Hubert H. Bancroft, Hon. C. T. Ryland, W. W. Palmer, Horace Davis and others signified by letter their desire of being identified with the society. Father Accolti, as the oldest pioneer present, presided at the meeting, while Henry C. Hyde acted as secretary. H. H. Bancroft allowed the free use of his magnificent library in San Francisco and did all in his power to further the success of the undertaking which Father Varsi had set on foot.
In view of the improvements of the past few years we might be inclined to conclude that there was money in the education business, as indeed in former years people actually did conclude. "The Santa Clara regents have wealth whencesoever it comes," was the common opinion, and considering the enormous cost of labor and material prior to the opening of the railroad, we can reeadily understand how reasonable such a conclusion was. The fact is, however, the inner history of Santa Clara during those years of progress is peculiarly unintelligible. The Jesuits were flying in the very face of bankruptcy, their debts were increasing, but so long as they remained within payable limits they cared not. What if bankruptcy did come? their present expenditures were wise because necessary, and provided there remained the wherewithal to satisfy their creditors their personal interests mattered little. They came to California poor and homeless, could they not repeat the process and return whence they came? but there was no such danger; their creditors were wealthy men who, while trusting the Fathers, hoped to see Santa Clara College emerge from her debt glorious and triumphant. "What gave the Fathers credit," says an early historian, "was their solid piety and goodness of life, their eminent and known learning, their progress even in the modern sciences, mathematics, physics and chemistry, especially in their accurate and reliable assays and analyses of minerals, to determine the exact amount of silver, gold or other element contained in the specimens offered for examination,--an affair of the highest interest for California at that period of time." But whatever the willingness of benefactors to lend, the Fathers were anxious to free the College from the burden of debt and so from 1873 till the present time all their surplus money has gone toward liquidation. In 1873 the debt was $118,279.46. Father Brunengo, the seventh president, reduced it to $98,703.03 by 1876, but it remained above ninety thousand until in 1891, under the administration of Father Kenna, it was reduced to the manageable sum of $14,000. Since that time it has never gone far beyond this mark, though unfortunately even to this day there is a debt on the institution.
We are now prepared to continue our narrative of events from Father Varsi's time. His two immediate successors had enough to do in grappling with the financial problem, though both Father Brunengo and Father Pinasco did much to improve the general appearance of the College and to perfect internal discipline. It was not, however, until Father Kenna's first presidency that affairs began to improve. With the debt practically removed Father Kenna was enabled to attend to further material progress. In 1884 he addressed a letter to the former students, many of whom he had known personally, for he himself was a Santa Clara alumnus, and in his letter he expressed a desire to erect a College chapel which should be a fit memorial and substantial proof of the affection which the "old boys" bore toward their alma mater. It was an appeal for contributions and the response was both immediate and generous, and in 1888 the memorial Chapel of Santa Clara College was dedicated under the invocation of the Immaculate Virgin Mary. It is a magnificent structure and, though not as yet fully complete, an apt place for the present and future students to beg from the Father of Light inspiration in their studies and guidance for their after life.
In giving this brief outline of the men and the doings of the last thirty-nine years, for we have now reached 1889, we have said nothing of the subordinates, of the men who were not raised to the dignity of command, merely because they were needed elsewhere, in the class-room or the lecture halls. Some of the presidents may not be known outside the College circles; but there are some who, having identified themselves with the history of Santa Clara, have for their learning and intellectual caliber gained a worldwide reputation. Of these we could mention a long list of names, and add to each name a long list of achievements. Among the dead we could name Veyret, the scientist and mathematician; Pascal, the classical scholar and litterateur; White, the playwright and poet; Pollano, the philosopher and theologian; Bayma, the man of universal powers, the scientist, the mathematician, the classical scholar and the English author all in one; Young, the rhetorician; Shallo, the poet and philosopher; Caredda, the disciplinarian and musician. These among the dead; still among the living we can point to Fathers Neri, Leonard, Cichi, Traverso, all octogenarians, but with the exception of Father Leonard, full of vigor and life. The rough pioneer days agreed with them.
The list would be too long for our purpose; a brief mention of some few will suffice. Joseph Bayma was a man of most varied attainments. His epic poem "Christopher Columbus," in the octava rima of Tasso, is of recognized merit and marks him as a poet. His five volumes of mathematics written and published at Santa Clara justify us in calling him a mathematician. As a philosopher and scientist, his "Treatise on Molecular Mechanics," highly commended and much studied at Oxford and Cambridge, is a sufficient guaranty of unusual ability. Besides this treatise he has written a complete course of philosophy, and during his residence at Santa Clara his regular contribution to American magazines gained for him and reputation as an English scholar, a rare gift for one who did not begin the study of English until his thirty-second year.
Side by side with Bayma lived and labored the Rev. Edmund Young, who, if he has lift no printed books to testify to his ability, has a sufficient recommendation in the men he trained in oratory and English composition. The Hon. D. A. Delmas is one of his pupils; Stephen M. White is another and a great number of like orators and statesmen can and do date back their inspiration and success to the humble Jesuit who for several decades directed the Literary Congress and taught English literature at Santa Clara.
Nor must we omit the name of Father Caredda. His life was not of such a nature that his reputation could go far beyond the walls, and yet there is not one of the 13,700 students who during the past fifty years studied at Santa Clara, who does not remember and remembering feel a warm affection for the dear old man who during the long period of thirty-four years (1855-89) acted as prefect of discipline and general musical director; and in this latter capacity he continued to be of active service till 1890. Father Caredda, like the other Italian Fathers to whom the existence and preservation of Santa Clara College is due, was a victim of the religious persecution of 1848 when to be a Jesuit, in Piedmont at least, was to be an enemy of all things patriotic and just.
This brings us up to the last decade, to the presidency of Father Riordan and the second term of office of Father Kenna. Father Riordan's energetic character did much in a dull time to keep up the prestige of the College, while Father Kenna's second term of office has been made memorable by the Golden Jubilee celebration of 1901. This celebration following so closely on the fiftieth anniversary of the discovery of gold, of the admission of California into the Union and other ioneer events, caused not a little stir in the west. People were made to realize that side by side with the early settles in California was a body of menlaboring for something more enduring than gold. The Jubilee year of Santa Clara, besides doing this, brought together the former students old and young, and if one observed, he would have been astonished by the great number of worthy alumni. We shall give but a brief statement of the names of the more prominent men who had gathered around their alma mater on that occasion. Nearly every walk in life was represented. Clay M. Greene, Valentine and Charles McClatchy, Franklin K. Hitchborn and Charles Jessen were among the literary men who were present. The Hon. D. M. Delmas, Hon. James D. Phelan, Hon. William Lorigan, Hon. James Capbell, J. J. Barrett, John O'Gara, were some of the orators who returned to pay their tribute of respect to Santa Clara.
The production of the "Passion Play of Santa Clara College," a sacred drama written for the occasion by Clay M. Greene, an old student, and dedicated to the Rev. R. E. Kenna "gentle playmate of the author's tender years," added greatly to the success of the Jubilee. This play has been received with more than usual applause and on two different occasions; it has been considered by competent critics as equal and by some superior to the famous Oberammergau drama; it has been in demand ever since the Jubilee and was reproduced in 1903. It will be presented at the World's Fair at St. Louis, 1904.
We have thus traced the history of Santa Clara College up to our own times. To-day the work of education is still going on within its walls and the College rests on the same broad basis of self-sacrifice which characterized the early Fathers. Without endowments, without wealth, without an oversupply of modern accommodations, it has a proud name and reputation as an institution where knowledge is imparted and the moral elements in man are not neglected. In view of this name and repute, we shall described the college as it stands to-day. Humble though it is outwardly, it has a certain inner worth which should not be overlooked.
The stranger entering in through the faculty building to the inner court finds himself in a magnificent garden, luxuriant in date palms and the choicest growths of Santa Clara's fair vale. Looking about him from the center of this court, he is attracted by the unusual appearance of the lower story of the surrounding building. It is of adobe, a remnant of mission days; the walls, some three feet thick, are either ivy-covered or of a beautiful green tint corresponding to the verdure of the garden plants, which in winter as in summer retain their vitality and beauty. If the visitor is fortunate enough to obtain a guide,--and as a rule he is so fortunate, for the members of the faculty, if not engaged in class work, act as guides,--he is taken through the college grounds and buildings and notices, as he proceeds, a wonderful combination of antiquity and modern improvements.
Passing from the garden into what is known as the vineyard,--it was avineyard once and retains the name,--he is shown a little grove of olive trees and some few fig trees, ranging in age from one hundred to one hundred and thirty years. At the far end of this vineyard there is an heterogeneous collection of small buildings and articles of unknown import. It is Father Ricard's weather bureau and observatory, not actually completed, but for ordinary astronomical work quite sufficient. There is, besides the sidereal clock connected with Lick Observatory, an eight-inch equatorial telescope, supplied with incandescent lamps which throw a subdued light on the verniers and render work at once easy and effective. then there is a complete set of weather indicators all supplied with electrical recorders, by means of which the Rev. Professor is able to give seldom failing weather forecast to the daily papers of San Jose.
The visitor is next conducted to the main library, where he finds some eighteen thousand volumes of all ages and conditions. He is told that this Commentary on the Psalms was printed in 1492, that this quaint looking work is a relic of the old Douay College, that such and such a volume was used by Cardinal So and So in the Council of Trent; and if curious to learn the source of such book rarities, he is easily satisfied. The early Fathers, exiled from colleges of great age and great prestige, took care to secure whatever in the line of books they could conveniently take with them across the ocean, fearing that the marauding persecutors would convert their time-honored libraries into sleeping rooms or dancing halls for the revelling socialistic soldiers, and throw the valuable volumes into the waste piles. Thus the library at Santa Clara was enriched with rare specimens of books. But these ancient volumes do not make up the entire present collection; there is besides a department for modern publications, where we find the best works of poetry, fiction, oratory, history, science and all that modern research had added by way of commentaries to the ancient classics, from the Delphini professors down to Andrew Lang. It is a contrast marked and interesting to the student and, if from these books he directs his attention to the beautifully wrought Carara marble statues of Grecian and Roman celebrities, he feels that he is indeed in an atmosphere of learning. The building is in itself dispicable, but all that thirst for knowledge could supply is there and there in lavish abundance.
The building connecting this Library with the College proper is known as the infirmary, where students convalescent or ill received private rooms, together with nurse and medical attendance. At the extreme end of this building the visitor is introduced into the "Redwood" office, the sanctum of the College magazine, where a regular monthly publication, averaging sixty-five pages, is managed and edited by the students. This "Redwood," which has a fair reputation among College journals, is the outgrowth of "Owl," the first College magazine west of the Mississippi, a paper which was published monthly by the students of Santa Clara as early as 1870.
This editorial office looks out on the College campus, an extensive piece of property covering several acres and surrounded on all sides by buildings of various shape and age. The large dining hall is the first attraction for the visitor. It is capable of accommodating 225 students and is at present filled to its uttermost.
If the visitor makes the circuit of buildings from left to right he is first brought through the class rooms, ordinary for the most part except in the commercial department. Here the work is conducted in a practical manner and all the contrivances necessary for practical work are in evidence. For this purpose the hall has been fitted up with well appointed offices representing the more important lines of business, such as Importing, Jobbing, Forwarding, General Agency, Merchandise Emporium, Banking, etc. These offices are ranged along the wall, while the central part of the hall is occupied by standing desks for general commercial business. Adjoining this department is the art studio, where the students who apply themselves to architectural, mechanical or artistic drawing, have appropriate fixtures and a complete stock of apparatus. It seems to have been customary for many years to select a masterpiece of the term and as a reward of merit hang it on the walls of the studio, where at present there are some rare specimens of painting and drawing.
The next point of interest is the Scientific building, elegant though old and time-worn. Here the visitor finds besides a chemical and a hysical laboratory a well appointed physical cabinet, complemented by a paleontological and mineralogical museum. The cabinet contains a valuable collection of instruments, the museums have several thousand conchological speciments, fossils, petrefactions, volcanic maatter and so on, and the chemical laboratory is furnished with all the necessary instruments for assaying, chemical analysis, and general research. (Note: I was informed before my visit to Santa Clara that the present professor of science, Rev. Richard Bell, S. J., was rivaling Marconi in wireless telegraphic work. I of course doubted very much that any great success in this matter would result from individual and unaided research. It was indeed incredible and yet at the time of my visit I found the reverend scientist busy at his newly constructed instrument. These instruments were for the most part of his own construction. I examined them and asked if any results were obtainable. I was answered in a very practical way; Professor Montgomery, Father Bell's assistant, conducted me to a distant lecture hall which was separated from the cabinet by some three brick walls. Here is received through the telephone ear-piece distinct dots and dashes, as distinct, in fact, as those produced by the ordinary telegraphic recorder. The successful working of the contrivance made me determine to bring the professor before the public as a greater Marconi, but when I heard that the same effects were had between Santa Clara and St. Ignatius College, San Francisco, a distance of fifty miles overland, which is equivalent to over four hundred on sea, I thought it more advisable to leave his well merited fame to the near future when it is sure to place California before the scientific world as it already is before the literary world as a progressive and original state.)
Leaving the scientific building and crossing the College campus to the senior Library, the visitor finds a spacious hall equipped with all the facilities imaginable for indoor recreation; billiard tables three in number, and a variety of parlor games which engage the students during rainy or otherwise inclement weather. Separated from this room there is a reference library and a wealth of current magazines. Like the Gymnasium and Social Hall this reading room is under the supervision of the students, who impose fines for any thoughtless breach of rule and when necessary even suspend members who fail to comply with the rules. The College auditorium which adjoins this building has a seating capacity of two thousand. The stage setting is elegant, though the visitor's attention is chiefly drawn to the Passion Play Scenery, rich in oriental colors and designs and of an artistic touch rarely met with even in the larger threatres. The light system, too, arranged by the College electrician, Dr. George Montgomery, is for variable effects peculiarly unique and effective. Beneath this auditorium is a spacious dormitory, which like the three other sleeping departments is under the supervision of members of the faculty. But this dormitory, together with the gymnasium and social hall, are of the ordinary. The next attractive feature is found in the "Congressional Building" attractive inasmuch as it is the old "California Hotel" built some eighty years ago, and also because for the last thirty or more years it has been used as the assembly hall for the Literary Congress of Santa Clara College. The inauguration of this debating society and its methods have already been mentioned. What remains here is to examine its present standing. Each of the two branches has its own hall decorated with the pictures of former "Senators" and "Representatives." The president's desk is on an elevated platform, and on either side are the desks of the principal officials. All in all it is a pretty good miniature imitation of the Congress at Washington; but the resumblance is greater in the conduct of business. At the weekly meetings there is always some important question discussed, and the method of procedure is that of approved parliamentary law.
The Memorial Chapel, so called to perpetuate the generosity of the alumni, who in response to an appeal from the Rev. Robert E. Kenna sent donations lavishly and willingly, is the last but not the least feature which the visitor admires. It is a building of moderate proportions, crude and incomplete exteriorly, but with the exception of a few columns beautifully finished within. The altar-piece, a work of artistic beauty, the stained-glass windows and the statues, representing some particulars of Catholic dogma or Catholic history, all unite to impress the students with a sense of devotion and religious fervor as well as with the importance of moral education in this age of material tendencies.
Such would be a such were, in the case of the present writer, the impressions left by a hasty visit to the college as it is to-day. The peculiar contrast of outward poverty and inner worth is very striking, but it was thus from the beginning and from the beginning success crowned the efforts of the devoted professors. There is some talk of a new Santa Clara College of larger and more modern buildings. When they are erected, as they will be in the near future, the name of Santa Clara will attract students, who are now deterred by the absence of exterior accommodations; and in numbers, as even now it is in successful training, the College will stand among the first of our educational institutions, not as a rival, but as a worthy co-worker in the cause of intellectual and moral culture.