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The New York Times, May 15, 1908

Eighty Seats of Learning Represented at the Ceremonies on St. Nicholas Heights.
Mrs. Cleveland Touches Electric Button That Rings the Tower Bell Signalizing the Dedication.

The College of the City of New York which cost $6,500,000 and in its completed state is said to be second to none in the United States, was dedicated yesterday to the cause of higher education, free to all, under the most auspicious conditions.

The day was an ideal one for the ceremonies, at which no less than eighty colleges of this and other lands were represented in the throng that was gathered for the dedicatory exercises.

Aside from the actual dedication there were two notable features. One was the ovation with which Mark Twain was received. The other was the raising of the Stars and Stripes to the lofty flagstaff on the plaza, while the assembled company sang "America" and the silken folds of the emblem snapped in the breeze.

The exercises began at 9:15 o'clock with a reception for the speakers and distinguished guests in Townsend Harris Hall, where the academic procession was formed. It was a few minutes after 10 o'clock, while the Seventh Regiment Band played an overture, that the line, with Major Charles E. Lydecker, Marshal in Chief, at its head, moved from the north door of Harris Hall toward the plaza, where the presentation and raising of the flags of the city and of the Nation took place.

President McGowan of the Board of Alderman, introduced by Dr. Finley, President of the college, presented the city flag.

"We of New York owe allegiance to three flags," said Mr. Gowan. "First is our allegiance to the National flag, with beautiful and inspiring Stars and Stripes; second, to the flag of this Commonwealth, the emblem of the great Empire State, and the greatest and most powerful in the Union; third, the flag of this city."

Flag Flung to the Breeze.

The emblem was received by a delegation of students, who hurried with it to the tower of the auditorium, from which it was soon flung to the breeze.

Edward Lauterback, on behalf of the Associate Alumni of the college, presented the National emblem. The flag-raising which followed the address and formal presentation, was inspiring. With thousands grouped about the flagstaff "Old Glory" was run up and in a moment it was caught in the breeze.

As the band struck up the "Star Spangled Banner" every had was doffed and cheer after cheer rang out to be echoes and re-echoed among the turreted towers of the surrounding buildings.

Mark Twain reached the grounds just before the flag-raising, and instantly recognized he was welcomed with cheers as he walked with buoyant step from the Amsterdam Avenue gate to the plaza. He wore the gown of a Doctor of Laws of Oxford, and the red and pale blue of his flowing robe and his shock of white hair would have made him a conspicuous figure in any assemblage. He joined a group of the guests and speakers consisting of Ambassador Bryce, President Eliot of Harvard University, Joseph H. Choate, Mayor McClellan, and Edward M. Shepard, President of the college trustees, all greeting him cordially.

The movement of the guests and speakers to the main hall, where the dedication exercises proper took place, proved a triumphal procession for Mark Twain. He walked with St. Clair McKelway, but all efforts to carry on a conversation with the editor were futile. Cheer after cheer rang out for the distinguished author. He smiled, waved his hand and doffed his cap to the enthusiastic throng. The undergraduates were unsparing in their welcome of the famous man of letters.

"What do you think of it?" he was asked.

"I am not a bit embarrassed," he replied.

Another reporter asked him if he didn't wish all the shouting boys could vote.

"That I don't," he said, laughing. "I am afraid they might elect me Sheriff, or to some other high office which I am not qualified to fill."

It was the City College's day, and Mark Twain's.

In the great hall those taking part in the programme were seated in the front row on the platform. Among them was Mrs. Grover Cleveland, who had a simple but interesting duty to perform in connection with the dedication. She sat between Mr. Shepard and President Finley, and was quickly recognized. She was quietly dressed in black, with just a dash of color in the form of purple trimming and a bit of lace at the throat. Her hat was trimmed with flowers and a white wing.

The exercises began with an invocation offered by Mgr. Lavelle, followed by the formal presentation of the buildings to the Mayor of the city by Mr.. Shepard. Turning to Mayor McClellan, Mr. Shepard said:

"It is the plain duty of the Trustees at this dedication to express their special sense of the obligation which the college and city owe the genius and labors of George B. Post, the architect, and of those who have labored with him here.

"We offer, Mr. Mayor, this great hall and these buildings upon St. Nicholas Heights as the result of our stewardship over the moneys and other power which the city has put into our hands. Whatever may be amiss in what we have done we are confident that here is fit provision for the present work of the President, Faculty, and instructors, who must, in truth, be the rulers of the college, and for it earn its lesser or its greater glory.

"No doubt there must in time come still larger provision, but what has thus far been done makes easy on these very heights that increase in college work which will inevitably come with the Greater and still Greater New York. through the work of President Finley and his associates and successors may God bring the full measure of a great blessing to the City of New York, to those who dwell within its borders, and to those who are within the ever larger and larger, and, we pay, the nobler and still nobler, scope of its influence."

The Mayor's Response.

In response Mayor McClellan, turning to the undergraduates said:

"As much has been given to you, much will be required again. You are the children of New York, who grudged you nothing, and New York has the right to expect that in her cause you will always give the best that is in you. Any one of you who forgets the example of sincerity of purpose, of honesty of thought, and of manhood given by your President, is recreant in his duty to this college. Each one of you who by right thinking and right doing lives like a manly man, not only honors Alma Mater, but does his duty to New York.

"Life's journey is not easy. The road that most of us must travel has few smooth stretches and many rough. The coward and charlatan take the former blithely and try to pass around the latter. The manly man takes the road as it is, and finds the chief satisfaction of the journey in surmounting the obstacles he meets.

"Gentlemen of the Board of Trustees, gentlemen of the Faculty, undergraduates - I, the Mayor, in the name of the people of this city, give into your charge the trust of this new college, confident that in your hands it will be kept sacred, and that it will be administered to the greater glory of New York and to the uplifting of mankind."

A might cheer went up for President Finley as he arose to accept the trust imposed on him. When the applause finally subsided he said:

"I give myself hostage for these eager, noisy, ambitious young men and boys that they will bring back tot he city even more than they have received. The University of Leyden gave back to the city, and to the world her Gortius and her Descartes, a return in itself infinitely greater than the sum of all the taxes that might have been remitted. And there will spring from this college a few men who alone will compensate the city for all this new spending of her treasure. But the pledge I bring is of our unceasing striving that all who go down fro this hill, this place of transfiguration, into the city shall go fitter men and better citizens."

At the close of his address President Finley said: "I am sorry ex-President Cleveland cannot be here. For the last few years he has taken a deep interest in this institution, though I believe his first affection is for Princeton, but since he cannot come himself, he has sent the one dearest to him, Mrs. Cleveland."

Every one in the room sprang to his feet when she arose and bowed repeatedly in acknowledgment of the tribute. Stepping forward until she stood beside President Finley, she pressed a button, slightly at first, and then more firmly as she gained confidence and away up in the tower, 200 feet above where she stood, pealed the college bell, marking the actual dedication of the buildings to the cause of education. Three times she touched the button, and three times the note of the bell rang out. Inscribed on that bell is this legend:

"Unto you, O Man, I cry, and my Voice is to the sons of Man."

President Finley then read this note from President Roosevelt:

The White House, Washington, D. C.

I shall ask Secretary Straus to be the bearer of my message of good-will on May 14. It is an event of real and great importance, and I am glad that a member of my Cabinet, who stands peculiarly close to me, should be present on the occasion. With all good wishes, believe me sincerely yours,



After extending the greetings and good wishes of the President, Secretary Straus said in part:

"The vital condition for the continuance of popular Government is the education of the people. Not the education of the privileged few, but the education of the masses. The purpose of popular education should be not merely intellectual, but to turn out educated and practical workers and not impractical dreamers who, with premature and ill-guided judgments, rush to immature and hasty actin. The higher and fuller we can make that education the more stable and permanent do we lay the foundations for the strengthening and development of our institutions."

Mr. Bryce Speaks.

"The American Commonwealth is better off for having Mr. Bryce in the United States," said Dr. Finley in introducing the British Ambassador. The noted diplomat, wearing a sombre cap and gown of his Alma Mater, Oxford, prefaced his more serious remarks by a sly shot at the variegated colors about. him.

"When I first came to this country forth years ago," he said, "no one wore robes but the Supreme Court Justices at Washington; now look about you, and the colors rival the solar spectrum and outshine the rainbow. I fact, they almost equal the wealth of color on the ladies' hats I see n the distance." This reference to the unnumbered "Merry Widow" flower gardens evoked instant applause, and the speaker was at home with his audience.

Mr. Bryce brought greetings from Oxford, with seven centuries of history behind it, and, speaking for it and for old England, he said in closing:

"Our true life consists not in what we have, but in what we are. 'Man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.' to keep these old familiar truths before you, familiar, indeed, yet constantly forgotten, is one of the great functions of a college. In saying this I believe that I am expressing the views which you, President Finley, hold, and which you are doubtless shared by the members of your staff.

"We wish you and them and the college every success in the high mission in which you are entering. That mission will grow in greatness with the growth of the city, and our hope is that the college will be more and more a centre of light and inspiration to its students and be remembered by its alumni not only for the training it has given them, but for ht ideals of life it has held up before them."

Until this time, and it was well on to 2:30 o'clock, every address had been serious, with little touch of humor, save in Mr. Bryce's allusion to the "Merry Widow" hat, but ex-Ambassador Choate, who said he represented the plain citizen, brought a hearty laugh with the first word.

"I did not practice law in this city for nothing. One thing I learned," said he, "was never to talk to a hungry Judge, a hungry jury, or a hungry audience.

The hungry jurors soon the sentence sign,
And wretched hang that jurymen may dine.

"I don't want any one to hang on my words. There is an aching void that no words of mine will fill.

A Shakespearean Citizen.

"Now I am described as a citizen. I feel very much like those citizens described in the plays of Shakespeare. They are, you know, usually labeled as 'first citizen,' 'second citizen,' and so on. I am very like them, and I appear in plain clothes as well. They wear no caps and gowns, and neither you see do I. And I am like the citizen in Shakespeare, for it doesn't matter what they say, for they never say anything.

"There isn't much in the man who can live in New York for half a century, and not get all there is in him educated."

Every one settled back for a good laugh when President Finley called on Mark Twain to speak for Oxford, introducing him as the foremost figure in American letters. When he could make himself heard, the author said, in all seriousness:

"How difficult, indeed, is the higher education. Mr. Choate evidently needs a little of it. He is not only lacking as a statistician of New York, but he is off, way off, in his mathematics. 'Four thousand citizens of New York," indeed!

"But I don't think it was wise or judicious on the part of Mr. Choate to show the kind of higher education he has obtained. He has said that seventy years ago he was in the lap of that great educator Horace Mann. I was there at the time - and see the result, the lamentable result. May be, if he had had a sandwich here to sustain him, the result would not have been so serious.

Gov. Hughes was to have spoken, but telegraphed that he was kept away by pressing official duties. He sent his congratulations.

They Sing Old Songs and Listen to the Wisdom of Mark Twain.

The "old boys" of the College of the City of New York - 400 strong - representing the Associate Alumni of the institution, lustily last night drank to the long life and prosperity of their alma mater at a dinner in the Waldorf-Astoria. It was the closing feature of the day of celebration in connection with the dedication of the new buildings on St. Nicholas Heights. The alumni sang the song with a zest which revived memories of the old days, when they were enrolled as students in the buildings now vacated for the larger and more magnificent quarters which the city has built.

And when the echoes had died away, the alumni and members of the college Faculty, together with the Presidents of several other colleges in this and other States, listened to the words of wisdom and wit by Mark Twain and others.

One suggestion made by Mark Twain may take root and grow, the college men say, although, when offered last night, it was partially cloaked in jest. The suggestion was that a chair of citizenship be established at City College, and the idea met with applause. Mark Twain, who was late in arriving at the dinner, was lustily cheered. Some one facetiously shouted, "Who is Mark Twain?"

Instantly came the reply from many throats:

"First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen."

Before the author was called upon to speak, the other speakers had been frequently interrupted by cries of "Louder!" And on this Mark Twain commented:

"If you have a voice loud enough to state what you have to state you don't have to have anything in what you say anyhow." And then he told of the Mayor's suggestion made in his speech at the dedication exercises in the afternoon, that citizenship should be placed above everything, even learning.

Mark Twain's Suggestion.

"I thought when the Mayor said that there was not a man within hearing who did not agree with that sentiment," added Mr. Clemens. "And then I thought - is there in any college of the land a chair of citizenship where good citizenship and all that it implies is taught? there is not one - that is, not one where sane citizenship is taught. There are some which teach insane citizenship, bastard citizenship, but that is all. Patriotism! Yes, but patriotism is usually the refuge of the scoundrel. He is the man who talks the loudest.

"You can begin that chair of citizenship in the College of the City of New York. You can place it above mathematics and literature, and that is where it belongs.

"Some years ago on the gold coins we used to trust in God. We didn't put it on the coppers and the nickels because we were not sure. If you teach citizenship you will teach that veracity is one of the first principles of good citizenship. I think that the Congress of the United States should take it upon itself to state just what we do believe in.

"That statement on the gold coins, 'In God We Trust,' was an overstatement. There is not a nation in the world which ever put its faith in God. In the unimportant cases of life, perhaps, we do trust in God - that is, if we rule out the gamblers and burglars, and plumbers, for of course they do not believe in God.

"If cholera ever reached these shores the bulk of the Nation would pray to be delivered from the plague, but the rest of the population would put their trust in the Boards of Health. If I remember rightly, the President required or ordered the removal of that sentence from the coins. Well, I didn't see that the statement out to remain there. It wasn't true.

"The author then told of the forty-two children in the Holy Land who were devoured by two bears, and suggested that if they put their trust in God, as they had been advised to do by the prophet, they were sadly disappointed.

He Respects the Prophets.

"But I have a great respect for the baldheaded prophets," he resumed. "I expect to be one myself sometime. I don't know Mr. Bryan, but he's got that sort of a head. If congress puts that motto back on the coins I hope they will modify it. There are limitations. If there is not room on the coins for the limitations let them enlarge the coins.

"Now I want to tell a story about jumping at conclusions. It was told to me by Bram Stoker, and it concerns a christening. There was a little clergyman who was prone to jump at conclusions sometimes. One day he was invited to officiate at a christening. He went. there sat the relatives - intelligent-looking relatives they were. The little clergyman's instinct came to him to make a great speech. He was given to flights of oratory that way - a very dangerous thing, for often the wings which take one into the clouds of oratorical enthusiasm are wax and melt up there, and down you come.

"But the little clergyman couldn't resist. He took the child in his arms and, holding it, looked at it a moment. It wasn't much of a child. It was little, like a sweet potato. Then the little clergyman waited impressively, and then: 'I see in your countenances, he said, 'disappointment of him. I see you are disappointed with this baby. Why? Because he is so little. My friends, if you had but the power of looking into the future you might see that great things may come of little things.

His Name Was Mary Ann.

" 'There is the great ocean, holding the navies of the world, which came from little drops of water no larger than a woman's tears. There is the great constellations in the sky, made up of little bits of stars. Oh, if you could consider his future you might see that he might become the greatest poet of the universe, the greatest warrior the world has ever known, greater than Caesar, than Hannibal, than er - er (turning to the father,) what's his name?'

"The father hesitated then whispered back, 'His name? Well, his name is Mary Ann.' "

It was nearly midnight when Mr. Clemens finished speaking. With a long cigar in his mouth he hastened from the dining hall, pausing at the door to say:

"I have an important engagement at a quarter of eleven."

It was then 11:45.

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