December 20: Dr. M’Cosh at Princeton (1868)

A glimpse of student life at Princeton University in the late 1860s, particularly in the last paragraph.

The New York Observer, 46.51 (Thursday, 17 December 1868), Religious Department, page 402, column 2b:


Princeton, Dec. 11th, 1868.

Messrs. Editors,—The new Second Presbyterian Church was dedicated on the 3d inst. [i.e., Dec. 3d]

This edifice, constructed of brown stone, and located in the centre of the town, nearly opposite the Astronomical Observatory, is a massive structure of the Gothic style of architecture, of fair proportions, nearly finished, and furnished with taste and elegance, and would not fail to attract the attention of a stranger. The pews below and the galleries included will probably seat not far from a thousand.

The dedicatory services included a sermon in the morning from the venerable senior Professor, in the School of the Prophets, Dr. Charles Hodge, and one in the afternoon from Rev. Mr. M’Cosh. This was the first sermon of the new President to a popular audience since his arrival in the country. The discourse was worthy of one of the “kings of the realm of thought.”

Among the changes introduced into the College by the new President, may be mentioned the omission of the usual Sunday afternoon recitation of three chapters in the Bible, a custom which has been in vogue ever since the days of President Ashbel Green, who, tradition says, used to consider five chapters none too many in such a connection. In place of this, Dr. M’Cosh is giving a series of lectures on the Life of Christ, the students being required to take notes and submit to a subsequent examination. These lectures are quite popular, and are attended by the Seminary students also, who crowd the College Chapel every Sunday afternoon.


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