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Title: William Dwight Whitney
Author: Seymour, Thomas Day
Language: English
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Northampton, Massachusetts, half a century ago, was one of the best
examples of a typical New England town--among stately hills, on the
banks of the Connecticut River, with broad streets well shaded by great
spreading elms, with large homesteads still occupied by the descendants
of early settlers, with people of much culture and refinement who
were given to "plain living and high thinking." It was the town of
Edwards, of Dwight, of Hawley, of Stoddard, of Strong, and of many
another worthy. It was the seat of the once famous Round Hill Academy.
There, on February 9, 1827, William Dwight Whitney was born,--the
second surviving son and fourth child of Josiah Dwight Whitney and
Sarah Williston Whitney. His mother was a daughter of the Rev. Payson
Williston (Yale, 1783), of Easthampton, and sister of the Hon. Samuel
Williston, who founded Williston Seminary. His father was born in
Westfield, Mass.,--the oldest son of Abel Whitney, who was graduated at
Harvard in 1783.

No company of brothers and sisters of any American family has been so
remarkable for scholarly attainments and achievements as that family in
Northampton: Josiah D. Whitney, Jr. (Yale, 1839), Professor of Geology
at Harvard; William D. Whitney, of Yale; James L. Whitney (Yale, 1856),
of the Boston Public Library; Henry M. Whitney (Yale, 1864), Professor
of English Literature at Beloit College; Miss Maria Whitney, the first
incumbent of the chair of Modern Languages in Smith College.

William D. Whitney was fitted for college in his native town, and
entered the Sophomore class of Williams College in 1842, at the age of
fifteen. Tradition says that the studies of the college course were
easy to him, and that he spent most of his time in wandering over
the fields, studying geology and the habits of birds and of plants,
although he maintained the first rank for scholarship in his class.
On his graduation he pronounced the valedictory oration, on 'Literary

After graduation--at eighteen, the age when most now enter college--Mr.
Whitney remained for three years in uncertainty with regard to his
life-work, meanwhile busy as teller in his father's bank. He did
not take an active part in the social life of the young people of
Northampton, but employed himself in his own pursuits. His leisure time
was given largely to the collection of birds and plants; a large and
beautiful case of birds stuffed by him at this period is in the Peabody
Museum at New Haven. His tastes for natural science were marked, and
he was more than an amateur in that field. He spent the summer of 1849
in the United States Survey of the Lake Superior region, conducted by
his eminent brother, Josiah D. Whitney--having "under his charge the
botany, the ornithology, and the accounts." In the summer of 1873,
also, he was invited to take part in the Hayden exploring expedition in
Colorado. The Report of the Survey says that he "rendered most valuable
assistance ... in geographical work." His account of this expedition
of 1873 was published in the New York _Tribune_, and afterwards was
translated into French for a popular publication of that country, as
giving a clear view of the work of such scientific parties. He had a
brief article in the _American Journal of Science_ for the same year on
the U. S. Geological Survey of the Territories. He gave several months
of his time just before leaving home for his last visit to Europe, to
helping Professor J. D. Whitney put through the press the latter's work
on 'The Metallic Wealth of the United States.'

His scientific experience stood him in good stead in more than one
instance of philological research and discussion. He was not tempted
to infer from linguistic data the order of succession of trees in
forests, nor astronomical facts. He was a member for several years
of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. One of
his most important publications was the annotated translation of a
Hindu treatise on astronomy--the Sūrya-Siddhānta, 1860--and one of the
longest essays in his 'Oriental and Linguistic Studies' treats of the
same subject.

In 1848, largely under the influence and with the encouragement of his
father's pastor, the Rev. George E. Day (for a quarter of a century
after 1866 Professor of Hebrew at Yale, and at present Dean of the
Yale Divinity School), Mr. Whitney directed his attention to the study
of Sanskrit, for which he found books in the library of his elder
brother, who had recently returned from Europe. A really good mind can
find pleasure and success in any one of several different fields of
research. Not often, however, do we find such marked examples of men of
real talent manifesting distinct tastes and power in widely different
departments of learning as in the case of these two brothers. Mr. J.
D. Whitney went to Germany primarily in order to prepare himself for
mineralogical and geological work, but became interested in the study
of languages and attended (with but two fellow-listeners) a course of
lectures on Sanskrit at Berlin. He himself says that he might have
taken up philology in earnest, abandoning natural science altogether,
if immediately after his return to his home he had not received an
appointment to engage in a geological survey of a new and interesting
region under United States authority. His philological studies have
borne fruit in his 'Names and Places--Studies in Geographical and
Topographical Nomenclature,' published in 1888, and in the more than
four thousand definitions he furnished to the Century Dictionary. Mr.
W. D. Whitney certainly had great ability in the study of natural
science. Doubtless the accident of his finding various linguistic
books ready to hand, at the time when his mental powers were most
actively developing, had much to do with his turning in the direction
of philology. During the summer which he spent with his brother on
Lake Superior he had a Sanskrit grammar with him, which he studied
at odd moments when not engaged in collecting plants or computing
barometrical observations. Yale College has had another marked example
of a scholar with equal ability and tastes for widely diverse studies,
in Professor James Hadley, whose first published work was in the
department of mathematics, and of whom a high authority said that the
best mathematician in the country was spoiled when Mr. Hadley devoted
himself to Greek!

Mr. Whitney's practical banker father was not fully satisfied with
his plan of giving himself to Oriental studies, and asked his pastor
whether a man could support himself in life by studying and teaching
Sanskrit. Dr. Day made the very wise answer that if a man had any
exact and thorough knowledge, he was likely to be able to use it. As a
Massachusetts man, the father turned naturally to Harvard as the proper
place for his son's pursuit of advanced studies, but his pastor called
his attention to the newly established department of Philosophy and the
Arts at New Haven as the only definite arrangement yet made in this
country for university work, and especially to the unique equipment of
the special department of Oriental languages.

Before going to New Haven to study, Mr. Whitney prepared and published
in the _Bibliotheca Sacra_ an article (translated and abridged from von
Bohlen) on the 'Grammatical Structure of the Sanskrit'; and in the same
periodical, in the following year, he published a 'Comparison of the
Greek and Latin Verbs.'

In the autumn of 1849, too late for his name to appear in the
catalogue of that year, Mr. Whitney came to Yale and studied through
the remainder of the college year under Professor Salisbury. His
associate in study was Professor James Hadley (six years older than
himself, but only three years older in college age), who had been
appointed assistant professor of Greek in 1848. The relations of the
two continued most intimate and mutually stimulating until the death
of Professor Hadley in 1872. Mr. Whitney edited a volume of Professor
Hadley's Essays, in 1873, and wrote a brief but highly appreciative
sketch of his friend for the large work entitled 'Yale College,'
published in 1879.

Professor Salisbury was graduated at Yale in 1832. During more than
three years' residence abroad, 1836-39, he studied with De Sacy and
Garcin de Tassy in Paris and with Bopp in Berlin. In 1841 he was
invited to a professorship of the Arabic and Sanskrit languages in
Yale College, without the expectation of pecuniary compensation. This
was only nine years after the foundation of the Sanskrit professorship
(of H. H. Wilson) at Oxford, and twelve years after Lassen was made
Professor Extraordinarius at Bonn. He returned to Europe in 1842 for
a year, and read _privatissime_ Arabic with Freytag and Sanskrit with
Lassen, at Bonn. In 1846 he was made the Corresponding Secretary of
the American Oriental Society, and (to use Mr. Whitney's words) "for
some ten years Professor Salisbury was virtually the Society, doing
its work and paying its bills. He gave it standing and credit in the
world of scholars, as an organization that could originate and make
public valuable material; after such a start, it was sure of respectful
attention to whatever it might do." The Society had published nothing
before he took charge of this office. Professor Salisbury also secured
valuable Arabic and Sanskrit manuscripts and books from De Sacy's
library and elsewhere in Europe; and Professor FitzEdward Hall, then
at Benares, procured for him many expensive and important Sanskrit
publications from India. His services and generosity in procuring fonts
of Oriental type, and his wisdom in bringing the Oriental Society into
close connection with the studies of foreign missionaries, should not
be forgotten. He was the only trained Orientalist in this country,
until Mr. Whitney's return in 1853, and had an admirably equipped
library. In the Yale catalogue of 1841-42, Professor Salisbury's name
appears for the first time in the list of the faculty as Professor of
the Arabic and Sanskrit Languages and Literature. In the catalogue
of 1843-44, announcement is made that "the Professor of Arabic and
Sanskrit will give instruction on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in Arabic
grammar with the interpretation of the Korân and the Mo'allakas, and
on Fridays and Saturdays in Sanskrit grammar with the interpretation
of the laws of Manu." In the following year we are told that "the
Professor of Arabic and Sanskrit proposes to commence this year, in
the ensuing summer, a free course of lectures on the Sacred Code of
the Hindus, the Manava Dharma Sastra." In 1845 for the first time
appears a modestly-placed paragraph, saying "Instruction is also given
by the Professors to Resident Graduates, provided a sufficient number
present themselves to form a class." This was followed by the offer
of a "course of lectures on the literary history and doctrines of the
Kurân," or instruction in the elements of Sanskrit. In 1847 appeared
the formal announcement of the opening of the Department of Philosophy
and the Arts, with definite arrangements for advanced work. The
philological courses were by President Woolsey (Thucydides or Pindar),
Professor Kingsley ("in such Latin author as may be agreed upon"),
Professor Gibbs ("lectures on some points of general Philology"), and
Professor Salisbury (Arabic Grammar, and "some of the relations of the
Arabic to other of the Shemitish dialects").

Marvellous stories are told in student-tradition of the rapid progress
made by Mr. Whitney and Mr. Hadley--that they learned all the paradigms
of Bopp's grammar in two lessons, etc. The basis of the stories is
partly the fact that both already read simple Sanskrit with ease,
but it is certain that few teachers ever had such a class. They were
Professor Salisbury's first and last pupils in Sanskrit, but he might
well feel proud of the record. He himself says of them that "their
quickness of perception and unerring exactness of acquisition soon made
it evident that the teacher and the taught must change places."

In 1850 Mr. Whitney went to Germany and spent three winter semesters
in studying with Weber, Bopp, and Lepsius in Berlin, and two summer
semesters at work with Roth in Tübingen. At the suggestion of Roth he
undertook with this master the publication of the Atharva-Veda, and
copied and collated the Berlin MSS of this work. In 1852 he sent to
the American Oriental Society a paper, read at their October meeting
of that year, on 'The main results of the later Vedic researches
in Germany.' A letter from Weber, dated at Berlin, Dec. 28, 1852,
is interesting in this connection on several accounts. He writes:
"I hope ere long Sanskrit studies will flourish in America more
than in England, where with the only exception of the venerable and
not-to-be-praised-enough Professor Wilson nobody seems to care for
them so much as to devote his life to them. The East India Company
certainly does all that is in its power to help the publication
of the Vedic texts, but it does not find English hands to achieve
it.... It is certainly very discouraging to see that Professor Wilson
during all the time since he got his professorship in Oxford, has not
succeeded in bringing up even one Sanskrit scholar who might claim
to be regarded as one who has done at least some little service to
our Sanskrit philology.... I have to congratulate you most heartily
on your countryman Mr. Whitney, who is now intensely engaged in
the preparations for an edition of the Atharva Samhitā in union
with Professor Roth of Tübingen. The next number of the _Indische
Studien_, too, which is now in press, contains from him tables
showing the natural relation of the four now known Samhitās of the
Veda,--an attempt in which he was greatly indebted to Professor Roth's
communications, but which still remains also a very favorable specimen
of his own assiduity and correctness."

The following letters need little explanation. We note with interest
how soon the first followed the receipt of Weber's letter which has
just been quoted. The spirit which prompted the offer of the first
letter is certainly unusual in its generosity--not only surrendering a
professorial chair, but also providing for its endowment. The modesty
and delicacy of the reply seem as extraordinary at the present day, and
were perhaps as rare forty years ago.

Under date of February 19, 1853, Professor Salisbury wrote to Mr.
Whitney: "... I have observed your course of study and the rapidity of
your acquisitions since you have been abroad with much interest and
have seen in this, together with what I have known otherwise of your
tastes and talents, a way opening for relief to myself which I have
long desired. The prospect has been the more pleasing to me inasmuch as
I have also seen that I might be able through you to bring new honor
to my 'alma mater.'... It is also much at heart with me to secure
... assistance to myself in editing and endeavouring in every way to
improve the Journal of the Oriental Society." Professor Salisbury
proposed that Mr. Whitney should be made "Professor of the Sanskrit and
its relations to the kindred languages, and of Sanskrit literature, in
the Department of Philosophy and the Arts in Yale College," his term of
service to begin Aug. 8, 1853;--it being understood that Mr. Whitney
would include in his instructions the teaching of modern languages
to undergraduates, and should receive the fees which were then paid
for such teaching. It was understood, further, that Mr. Whitney would
co-operate with Professor Salisbury in editing the Journal of the
Oriental Society. Professor Salisbury undertook to create a fund which
with the fees for modern-language instruction might furnish nearly the
ordinary salary of a Yale professor at that time.

Mr. Whitney replied from Paris, on April 4, 1853. Professor Salisbury's
letter had reached him at Berlin at a time when he was engaged in
closing his work there, and "had hardly an hour for quiet thought upon
any subject." He expressed his gratitude for the kind feeling toward
him "which has had a share in the dictating of the proposal," and
continued: "Nor can I well say how much I am struck by the true and
self-forgetting zeal for the progress of Oriental studies, of which
this, like all your previous movements, affords an evidence. But ... I
am compelled to ask myself whether ... I can hope to render any such
service to Science as would be an adequate return for the kindness you
exhibit toward me; whether, finally, it would not be in me an act of
unpardonable presumption to take upon my shoulders an office which you
are desirous of throwing off.... I need not say how high and honorable
a post I regard that of a teacher at Yale to be, how many and extreme
attractions, both in a personal and in a scientific point of view, the
prospect of such a situation would have for me.... So far as my own
interests are concerned, I could find nothing in the terms which you
propose or the duties which you suggest to which to raise a moment's
objection.... All that I could bring up against the arrangement would
be that the advantage is too entirely upon my side." He desired further
time for reflection and consultation with his friends, and thought the
postponement of a decision less objectionable because he did not expect
to be able to finish his work in Europe and return before the last of
August, and then, after a three years' absence from home, desired to
spend some time with his friends. His eyes, too, had been giving him
"during the winter ground for some apprehension," and "would doubtless
be best consulted for by a period of rest and inaction."

In Paris he was "at work on a MS of the Atharva which belongs to the
Imperial Library." "Probably it will cost me about six weeks' labor....
Then will follow two or three months of similar labor in London and
Oxford.... During the whole winter I was compelled to neglect all other
studies; that, however, chiefly owing to the condition of my eyes,
which robbed me of about half my time. Persian and Arabic had to be
laid aside altogether, and what of time and strength I had to spare
from the Sanskrit, I devoted to the Egyptian and Coptic. I cannot
well express to you the interest which this latter branch of study
has awakened in me, and the strong desire I have felt to penetrate
further into it than the mere surface exploration which could be made
in the odd moments of a single winter. I would not, however, sell for
a very large sum the little insight into this wonderful subject which
I have already obtained, and it will be my highest pleasure to attempt
to draw it somewhat more into the circle of our Oriental inquiries
than has been generally the case hitherto.... There is nothing new of
particular interest, so far as I know, to communicate to you from the
Sanskrit world on this side of the water. The main interest attaches
to the Lexicon which is going to be really a great work, and to push
forward the whole study of that language a long way with one thrust. A
slow thrust, unfortunately, it will have to be; Prof. Roth estimates
ten years as needed for its perfection. [It was completed in 1875.]
I am going to contribute my small mite also toward it, by furnishing
to Prof. Roth the vocabulary complete of the Atharva. The latter, as
you perhaps know, has now the sole redaction of the Vedic material,
Aufrecht having left Germany. The next number of Weber's Zeitschrift
will be out now very soon, and will contain a contribution from me, a
Vedic concordance."

Mr. Whitney reached home earlier than he had expected--about Aug. 8,
1853--and on Aug. 15 he wrote: "Although not less distrustful than
before of my ability to discharge to your satisfaction and my own
the duties of the post to which you would assign me, I should be
disposed to accept gratefully your proposals, and do my best at least
to accomplish that which such an acceptance demands of me." But Mr.
Whitney desired a modification of the plan. "I have no such knowledge
of French as would in any manner justify me in making pretensions to
ability to teach it." His estimate of his knowledge of modern languages
was lower than that of his friends. Not until 1856 did he accept the
title of "Instructor in German." A year later, after he had taken nine
months of travel and study in southern Europe, the college catalogue
calls him "Professor of Sanskrit, and Instructor in modern languages."

The importance to American scholarship of the offer of this chair
to Professor Whitney may be better appreciated if we remember that
his predecessor still lives, and that no other chair of Sanskrit was
established in this country for about a quarter of a century.

At a special meeting of the Corporation of Yale College, on May
10, 1854, the "Professorship of the Sanskrit and its relations to
kindred languages, and Sanskrit Literature" was established, and Mr.
Whitney was elected to hold it. The founder's desire for the range
of the department was indicated distinctly, but the shorter name of
the professorship, "Professor of Sanskrit," was used in the college
catalogues until 1869, when the words "and Comparative Philology"
were added, without indicating any change in the direction of the
incumbent's studies or in the plan of the university.

In 1854 the announcement of philological courses in the Department of
Philosophy and the Arts covered Professor Gibbs's lectures on general
Philology, Professor Thacher's course of two hours a week in Lucretius
and in Latin Composition, Professor Hadley's course of two hours a
week in Pindar or Theocritus, and contained the following statement:
"Professor Whitney will give instruction in Sanskrit from Bopp's
Grammar and Nalus, or such other text-books as may be agreed upon, and
in the rudiments of the Ancient and Modern Persian, and of the Egyptian
languages." The last clause here reminds the reader of the enthusiasm
for the Egyptian and Coptic expressed in the letter of April 4, 1853;
and of the fact that Mr. Whitney's first 'bibliographical notice' in
the Journal of the Oriental Society discussed Lepsius's work on the
'First order of Egyptian deities,' but we read little more of these
studies, except a paper on Lepsius's Nubian Grammar in the second
volume of this JOURNAL. In 1858 Professor Whitney's announcement read:
"Professor Whitney will instruct in the Sanskrit language, and in
the History, Antiquities, and Literature of India and other Oriental
countries; also in the comparative philology of the Indo-European
languages, and the general principles of linguistic study. He will
also give instruction to such as may desire it in the modern European

The appointment of Professor Whitney in 1854 was for five years,
with a pledge of reappointment "for life," five years later, if he
desired it. In 1859 this reappointment was made--the founder of the
chair stipulating that Professor Whitney should be free to retire
from the professorship at any time. Mr. Whitney wrote, on July 15,
1859: "My present situation in New Haven is so pleasant to me on so
many accounts, and holds out such prospects of honorable and useful
employment in the time to come, that I should exceedingly regret being
compelled to go elsewhere. Nor, although it would be in many respects
more agreeable to me to be able to devote my _whole_ time to my own
peculiar studies, do I see reason seriously to regret the division of
my labors between the ancient and the modern languages. It is both
useful and pleasant to have to do more directly with the young men in
college, and there is also the chance of influencing one and another of
them to devote his attention to higher philological study."

During and after the Civil War, the ordinary expenses of life
increased, and Mr. Whitney's family was growing. The income which had
sufficed for the young and unmarried professor in 1854 had become
entirely insufficient for his needs, with six children, in 1870. For
his pecuniary relief he assumed additional duties of instruction in
modern languages, in connection with the Sheffield Scientific School.
His teaching of modern languages in the academic department had ceased
with the entrance upon his duties of Professor Coe, in 1867. The burden
of instructing large classes of undergraduates in the very rudiments
of French and German (each Academic student then having only thirty or
forty lessons in each subject) became more and more irksome.

In September, 1869, Mr. Whitney received an urgent call to Harvard,
very soon after President Eliot's election to the headship of that
university, with the assurance that he should have "salary enough to
constitute a tolerable support," and should not have to teach in any
other than his own proper department. He wrote to a friend: "It is the
most tempting offer that could, so far as I know, be made me; for on
the one hand I have greatly grudged the time which I have had to steal
from Oriental and linguistic studies for German and French; and, on the
other hand, what I have received for my services to the College has not
for a good while paid more than about half my expenses.... Such a state
of things has been, of course, worrying enough, nor have I seen any
definite prospect of a change. But I am greatly attached to the College
here, and to the Scientific School, and to relatives and friends in
New Haven, and have no hope that ... I should become so wonted and so
comfortable anywhere else."

Professor Whitney's colleagues saw how fatal his departure would be
to the advanced philological work at Yale. No definite provision had
then been made for graduate instruction in Greek, Latin, and Modern
Languages, and although Professors Hadley, Thacher, Packard, and Coe
were laboring to build up this department, their efforts received
only the slightest pecuniary compensation; they were expected to do
full work in the undergraduate department; Mr. Whitney was the only
"University professor," not only at Yale, but in the whole country. One
who is everywhere recognized as a leader in education then wrote: "I am
confident that there is no one whose intellectual influence over the
younger officers of the college is so great as Mr. Whitney's.... I have
greatly admired his influence in promoting fidelity, truth, justice,
and industry among the students, as well as his skill in promoting
their intellectual character." Another of his colleagues wrote: "I have
never known the college men so moved. The danger of losing so eminent
a man as Mr. Whitney seemed almost appalling, and I think if no other
means of retaining him could be devised, the professors themselves
would each cut off a slice from his meagre salary to make up the amount
necessary to retain him. The question seems to rise above personal
considerations and to come very near to the vital interests of the

Professor Salisbury, whose insight and generosity had brought Mr.
Whitney to Yale, was nearly concerned by the call to Cambridge, and
after less than a week's delay provided the sum needed for the full
foundation of Mr. Whitney's chair on the modern scale of salaries,
which had changed greatly since 1854, and Mr. Whitney decided to remain
in New Haven. At this time the arrangement was made that Mr. Whitney
should give regular instruction in linguistics to the undergraduate
classes of the college, and this course, at first given in the form of
lectures, as part of the required work, was amplified and continued as
an 'elective' until 1886. Mr. Whitney still continued to teach in the
Scientific School for an hour a day, saying that in no other way could
he add so easily a convenient thousand dollars a year to his income as
by teaching from eight to nine o'clock each morning; he required no
preparation for the exercise, it did not interfere with the work of his
day, and he liked to be brought into contact with the young men.

The invitation to Harvard and the decision to remain at Yale had
attracted considerable attention and had given rise to many plans
for advanced philological instruction at New Haven. Mr. Whitney's
release from drudgery with undergraduates enabled him also to enrich
his Sanskrit and linguistic courses. In the catalogue of 1870-71
we read: "In Philology, a somewhat regular course of higher study,
extending through two years, and leading to the degree of Doctor of
Philosophy, is offered. The leading studies of the first year will be
The general principles of linguistic science, under Professor Whitney;
the Sanskrit language, under Professor Whitney; the older Germanic
languages, especially Gothic and Anglo-Saxon, under Professor Hadley
and Mr. Lounsbury; along with higher instruction in the classical and
the modern languages, according to the special requirements of each
student, under Professors Thacher, Packard, and Coe, and Messrs. Van
Name and Lounsbury, and others. The leading studies of the second
year will be The comparative philology of the Indo-European languages
... under Professor Whitney; the history of the English language,
under Professor Hadley; along with other special branches, as during
the first year." The reward for the new enterprise of a formal
graduate school of philology came almost immediately in the form of
an unusual class of students, nearly all of whom were destined to
secure honorable distinction in their chosen work. In the list of
those who received the degree of Ph.D. in 1873 appear the names of
Lanman of Harvard, Learned of the Japanese Doshisha, Luquiens of Yale,
Manatt of Brown, Otis of the Institute of Technology, and Perrin of
Yale. Truly an unusual group! Only the year before, Professor Easton
of the University of Pennsylvania and Professor Beckwith of Trinity
College, and the year following Professor Edgren of the University of
Gothenburg, received the same degree, while soon after them President
Harper of Chicago, Professor H. P. Wright of Yale, Professor Sherman
of Nebraska, Professor Peters of the University of Pennsylvania, and
Professor Tarbell of the University of Chicago completed the graduate
course under Mr. Whitney. The service which the Semitic scholar,
Professor George E. Day, had done for Indo-European philology by
turning Professor Whitney's mind to its attractions, was in a way
repaid by the latter when he pointed out to William Rainey Harper the
great opportunity open to workers in the Semitic field; as a graduate
student at Yale, Dr. Harper gave himself to work in the field of the
Indo-European languages, but his recollection of his master's words has
had a wide influence on Semitic studies in America. Professor Whitney
was justly proud of his pupils, and was always interested in their
work. His classes in Sanskrit were not large absolutely, but frequently
he could say that more were studying this language with him than with
any other university professor in the world.

Professor Whitney's connection with the Sheffield Scientific School
was close. He organized its department of modern languages, and was a
member of its 'Governing Board' from the time of the organization of
that body in 1872. One who has occasion to know better than all others
says that he was "a tower of strength" to the School--not only by his
instructions and by inspiring the students with the spirit of true
scholarship, but by his intelligent appreciation of the aims of the
School and his wise judgment as to the means to be used in order to
attain them. His personal liking for natural science, and training in
its methods, added the warmest sympathy to his work in connection with
this department of the University.

In the very first communication made to Mr. Whitney with regard to his
work at Yale, attention was called to the opportunity for usefulness
in connection with the American Oriental Society, of which he was
elected a member in 1850. In 1854 his name appears in the list of the
publication committee of that Society. In 1855 he was made librarian,
and held that office until 1873. This latter post was no sinecure. In
the winter of 1853-54, on going to visit the library (then kept in
Boston), he "found it a pile of books on the floor in the corner of an
upstairs room in the Athenaeum, apparently just as it had been brought
in and dumped down from an earlier place of keeping." In the summer
of 1855 the books were removed to New Haven. The task of "arranging,
labelling, entering in the book of donations, and preparing cards"
involved "a very considerable and tedious amount of work." In 1857, on
Professor Salisbury's going abroad and resigning the office, Professor
Whitney was elected Corresponding Secretary, and continued in this
position until 1884, when he was elected President of the Society.
His resignation of this latter office was not accepted until 1890,
when for nearly four years the condition of his health had obliged
him to absent himself from its meetings. He could well say that "no
small part of his work had been done in the service of the Society";
from 1857 to 1885, "just a half of the contents of its Journal is from
his pen." His care of the publications of others, also, was specially
difficult, in view of the peculiar danger of typographical errors and
the wide field covered by the papers; no ordinary proof-reader could
render much assistance. And not infrequently articles by those who were
unaccustomed to scientific composition needed thorough revision. On his
positively declining to be a candidate for re-election as President,
the Society adopted the following minute: "The American Oriental
Society--regretfully accepting his declination--desires to record
its deep sense of indebtedness to its retiring President, Professor
William Dwight Whitney, of New Haven. For twenty-seven years he has
served as Corresponding Secretary of the Society; for eighteen, as its
Librarian; and for six, as its President. We gratefully acknowledge the
obligation under which he has laid us by his diligent attendance at
the meetings, by his unstinted giving of time and of labor in editing
the publications and maintaining their high scientific character, by
the quality and amount of his own contributions to the _Journal_--more
than half of volumes VI-XII coming from his pen--and above all by the
inspiration of his example."

The American Philological Association might have been a natural
off-shoot from the Oriental Society. The latter has had a
'classical-section' since 1849, of which Professor Hadley was long at
the head, of which Professor Goodwin has been the leader for nearly
a quarter of a century; and classical papers had been presented by
Professor Hadley, as that 'On the theory of Greek accent,' and by
Professor Lane, as that 'On the date of the Amphitruo of Plautus.' Many
of the early members of the Philological Association were also members
of the Oriental Society. Mr. Whitney presided over the Philological
Association at its first meeting in Poughkeepsie in 1869, and at the
Rochester meeting in 1870, as retiring President, he delivered an
address in which he sketched with great wisdom the Association's action
and work. "The association is to be just what its members shall make
it, and will not bear much managing or mastering. It must discuss the
subjects which are interesting American philologists, and with such
wisdom and knowledge as these have at command.... In every such free
and democratic body things are brought forward into public which might
better have been kept back.... The classics, of course, will occupy
the leading place; that department will be most strongly represented,
and will least need fostering, while it will call for most careful
criticism. The philology of the American aboriginal languages, on the
other hand, demands, as it has already begun to receive, the most
hearty encouragement.... Educational subjects also are closely bound up
with philology, and will necessarily receive great attention; yet there
should be a limit here; our special task is to advance the interests
of philology only, confident that education will reap its share of
the benefit." Mr. Whitney's services to the Association, and faithful
attendance upon its meetings, may be estimated from the fact that the
first sixteen volumes of the Transactions contain fourteen papers by
him printed in full, while occasionally he presented communications
which he did not care to print. At its meeting in Williamstown in July
last, the Association adopted the following minute: "The American
Philological Association, at its first meeting after the death of
Professor William D. Whitney, bears grateful testimony to the value
of the services which he rendered for the furtherance of philological
learning, and especially in connection with this Association. Fitly
chosen to be its first President, and retained for a quarter of a
century upon its Executive Committee, he never failed to take an active
part in its work, and in many ways he advanced its interests and
encouraged and assisted the studies to which its members are devoted.
The record of his life-work may be left for more full recital at
another time; but the Association takes this opportunity of testifying
to its sense of obligation to Professor Whitney's manifold and
successful labors, and of the great loss which his death has brought to
its members and to philological students throughout the world."

Both the classical and the oriental philologists of the country have
noted Mr. Whitney's constancy in attendance on their gatherings. In
November, 1875, he apologized to the Oriental Society for his absence
from the May meeting (caused by his visit to Europe in the interest
of the edition of the Atharva-Veda), and added that it was his second
absence in twenty-one years from a meeting of the Society! His devoted
fidelity to the little Classical and Philological Society at Yale was
just as marked. A quarter of a century ago, he with Professor Hadley
and Professor Packard made that small gathering a deep source of
inspiration. Many, if not most, of his learned papers were presented
for discussion there. After the death of the lamented Professor Hadley,
which gave a sudden check to the development of Yale's advanced courses
in philology, Mr. Whitney was the mainstay of the Society, and his
regular attendance and patient attention roused to best effort each who
took part. Perhaps I ought to confess also that some of the younger
instructors and graduate students shrank from presenting papers which
might be compared with the finished scholar's elaborate productions.
At these meetings his patience must have been sorely tried; much
that was presented can have had but little interest for him; but his
courtesy was unfailing. He gave without stint of his precious time to
any undertaking which he believed to be doing, on the whole, useful
philological work.

The first great work of Mr. Whitney's scholarship was the publication
of the Atharva-Veda-Sanhitā, undertaken in 1852 with Professor
Roth. The first volume of 458 pages, royal octavo, was published in
1855-56. In connection with this, he prepared and published in Weber's
_Indische Studien_ (vol. IV, pp. 9-64) in 1857 an 'Alphabetisches
Verzeichniss der Versanfänge der Atharva-Samhitā'; in the _Journal_
of the American Oriental Society in 1862 (vol. VII, pp. 333-616) the
'Atharva-Veda-Prātiçākhya,' with text, translation and notes; in the
same _Journal_ in 1881 (vol. XII, pp. 1-383) an 'Index Verborum' to the
published text of the Atharva-Veda. He made to the A.O.S. in April,
1892, an 'Announcement' as to a second volume of the Roth-Whitney
edition of the Atharva-Veda. "The bulk of the work" of preparing notes,
indexes, etc., "was to have fallen to Professor Roth, not only because
the bulk of the work on the first volume had fallen to me [i. e.
Professor Whitney], but also because his superior learning and ability
pointed him out as the one to undertake it." But Roth's "absorption in
the great labor of the Petersburg lexicon for a long series of years
had kept his hands from the Atharva-Veda." Mr. Whitney said that he
had never lost from view the completion of the plan of publication
as originally formed. "In 1875 I spent the summer in Germany chiefly
engaged in further collating at Munich and at Tübingen the additional
manuscript material which had come to Europe since our text was
printed; and I should probably have soon taken up the work seriously,
save for having been engaged while in Germany to prepare a Sanskrit
grammar, which fully occupied the leisure of several following years.
At last in 1885-86, I had fairly started upon the execution of the
plan when failure of health reduced my working capacity to a minimum,
and rendered ultimate success very questionable. The task, however,
has never been laid wholly aside, and it is now so far advanced that
barring further loss of power, I may hope to finish it in a couple
of years or so. The plan includes critical readings upon the text";
the readings of the Pāippalāda version; the data of the Anukramaṇī
respecting authorship, divinity, and meter of each verse; references to
the ancillary literature; extracts from the printed commentary; and,
finally, a simple literal translation. "An introduction and indexes
will give such further material as appears to be called for." Of this
work the last revision is only partially made; a few months' more labor
would have completed it; Professor Lanman, of Harvard, has undertaken
to finish the revision and to conduct the volume through the press.
Thus Professor Whitney's work closes as it began--with the Atharva-Veda.

Perhaps Mr. Whitney's most important service to Sanskrit philology
was the preparation of his 'Sanskrit Grammar, including both the
classical language, and the older dialects, of Veda and Brahmana,'
486 pp., octavo. This was published in Leipzig in 1879, in the same
year with a German translation. He undertook this work in 1875, and
in 1878 went to Germany with his family and spent fifteen months in
writing out the grammar and preparing it for the press. He aimed "to
make a presentation of the facts of the language primarily as they
show themselves in use in the literature, and only secondarily as they
are laid down by the native grammarians"; "to include also in the
presentation the forms and constructions of the older language, as
exhibited in the Veda and Brāhmaṇa"; "to treat the language throughout
as an accented one"; "to cast all statements, classifications, and so
on, into a form consistent with the teachings of linguistic science."
"While the treatment of the facts of the language has thus been made a
historical one, within the limits of the language itself, I have not
ventured to make it comparative, by bringing in the analogous forms
and processes of other related languages. To do this, in addition to
all that was attempted beside, would have extended the work both in
content and in time of preparation, far beyond the limits assigned to
it." A second edition, revised and extended, was published ten years
later, in 1889. A 'Supplement to his Sanskrit Grammar: The Roots,
Verb-forms, and Primary Derivatives of the Sanskrit Language,' 250 pp.,
was published in Leipzig in 1885. That he did not discredit and slight
the old Hindu grammarians because of any lack of acquaintance with them
is shown by his own work and publications in that field. He published
not only the Atharva-Veda-Prātiçākhya (text, translation and notes,
in 1862), but also a similar edition of the Tāittirīya-Prātiçākhya,
with its commentary, the Tribhāshyaratna, in 1871. The true relations
of Hindu Grammar to the study of Sanskrit, he made clear in two
articles published in the AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHILOLOGY, in vols. V and
XIV. His last word on the subject was this: "I would by no means say
anything to discourage the study of Pāṇini; it is highly important and
extremely interesting and might well absorb more of the labor of the
present generation of scholars than is given to it. But I would have
it followed in a different spirit and a different method. It should be
completely abandoned as the means by which we are to learn Sanskrit.
For what the literature contains, the literature itself suffices; we
can understand it and present it vastly better than Pāṇini could. It is
the residuum of peculiar material involved in his grammar that we shall
value, and the attempt must be made to separate that from the rest of
the mass." More than twenty-five years ago he called attention to the
fact that the very title of Professor Goldstücker's paper 'On the Veda
of the Hindus and the Veda of the "German School"' involved an evident
_petitio principii_. The fair theme would have been 'The Veda of the
Hindu Schools, and the Veda of the European School: which is the true

The following extracts from a review by Hillebrandt in the fifth
volume of _Bezzenberger's Beiträge_ illustrate the reception generally
accorded to the Sanskrit Grammar:--"Es handelte sich für ihn nicht
um ein tieferes studium der einheimischen indischen grammatik, auf
deren reiche beobachtungen unsere bisherigen sanskritgrammatiken
fast ausschliesslich sich stützen, sondern um die erforschung des
sprachzustandes, wie ihn die litteratur selbst aufweist.... Whitney's
eigentliche aufgabe war es, in die sanskritgrammatik die grundsätze
der linguistik durchgreifender, als bisher geschehen war, einzuführen
und die sprache als eine historisch gewordene zu betrachten. Dies
princip hatte eine beständige rücksichtsnahme auf den vedadialekt
zur voraussetzung und verlieh Whitney's buche vorzüge, welche allein
genügen würden, ihm eine hervorragende stellung unter den vorhandenen
lehrbüchern anzuweisen. Die reiche fülle neuen materials, welches
er ... aus allen teilen der vedischen litteratur herbeizog und in
instructiver weise dazu verwandte, über das allmähliche aufleben und
absterben dieses oder jenes sprachgebrauchs aufschluss zu geben, die
durch reiche beispiele und aufstellung ganzer paradigmen illustrirte
unterscheidung vedischer und klassischer flexion, die von der indischen
grammatik vernachlässigte statistische beobachtung des formenschatzes
in älterer und jüngerer litteratur--dies sind eigenschaften die es in
dieser ausdehnung mit keinem teilt."

The Grammar provided an instrument which all Sanskrit scholars are now
thankfully using.

Of the Supplement to the Grammar, von Bradke wrote in the third volume
of the Literaturblatt für orientalische Philologie: "So anspruchslos
das Werk auftritt, in dieser Weise konnte es nur von einem unserer
ersten Kenner der altindischen Literatursprache, und auch von einem
solchen nicht ohne lange und mühevolle Arbeit geschaffen werden."

In this connection we should be again reminded that Professor Whitney
was one of the chief four collaborators who furnished material for
the great Sanskrit dictionary published at the expense of the Russian

In March, 1864, Mr. Whitney delivered at the Smithsonian Institution
a series of six lectures on the Principles of Linguistic
Science--probably lectures which he had given to the Sheffield
Scientific School the preceding year. This course was repeated before
the Lowell Institute and published in 1867, under the title of
'Language and the Study of Language,' 489 pages. This was translated
into German by Jolly and into Netherlandish by Vinckers. The clearness
and conciseness of the statements and the soundness of the views,
in a field where the wildest vagaries had prevailed, and where the
imagination was still allowed rather free play, were recognized on
every hand. From the time of the preparation of those lectures, Mr.
Whitney seems to have devoted to this subject more attention than he
had given before. In 1875 he published in the International Scientific
Series a similar book, in somewhat more compendious form, on the 'Life
and Growth of Language: an outline of linguistic science,' 326 pages.
This was translated into German, French, Italian, Netherlandish, and
Swedish. This last book grew out of his lectures to academic senior

No one has done so much as Mr. Whitney to teach sound views of
linguistic science. Although the writer of this sketch has not
ventured to include a detailed discussion of his views, perhaps
mention may be made fitly of two points in which he was in advance of
his contemporaries: he was among the very first to call attention to
_analogy_ as a force in the growth of language, and the first (after
Latham in 1851) to doubt the then generally accepted view that Asia was
the original home of the Indo-Europeans.

Papers which had been printed in the _North American Review_ and other
periodicals were collected and, with more or less revision, published
in two volumes entitled 'Oriental and Linguistic Studies,' 1873-74, pp.
417 and 432. The first volume contained papers on the Veda, the Avesta,
the science of language; the second, on the British in India, China and
the Chinese, religion and mythology, orthography and phonology, Hindu
astronomy. The author's regard for his earliest teacher in Sanskrit is
marked by his dedication of the first of the two volumes to "Professor
Edward Elbridge Salisbury, the pioneer and patron of Sanskrit studies
in America." The second volume "is affectionately dedicated" to
"Professors Rudolf Roth and Albrecht Weber, my early teachers and
lifelong friends."

His long experience as a teacher of modern languages and as a student
of linguistics aided to fit him pre-eminently for the preparation of
grammars, readers, and vocabularies of French and German for schools
and colleges, and his systematic habits of work enabled him to prepare
these easily. This apparatus met the needs of the newly awakened
interest in modern languages in this country, and has done much to
further this interest. These books are said to be used more widely than
any others of their kind in America. Some of them are published in two
editions, full and abridged. His desire for a reasonable and truly
philological study of the English language led him to prepare for use
in schools 'Essentials of English Grammar' (1877, 260 pages), which has
been adopted extensively by the public schools of the country and is
declared, by one who knows, to have had great influence on the study of
this subject.

Professor Whitney had assisted in the preparation of the Webster's
dictionary of 1864, rewriting the definitions of many of the important
words. This experience, his keen sense of proportion, his practical
turn of mind, his precise and concise manner of statement, his wide
and varied attainments,--all made him a peculiarly suitable person
to be the editor-in-chief of the great Century Dictionary with
which the people of this country will long associate his name. His
unfortunate illness prevented him from revising the work so carefully
as he doubtless would have done, had he been in vigorous health, and
some have thought that he should be called supervising-editor rather
than editor-in-chief. As the dictionary stands, he cannot be held
responsible for details; but his influence upon the work was strong as
well as salutary. Though he might not mark the proof for a dozen pages,
he would score the next page in a manner which set a standard, and
showed what he desired the revision of the rest to be, while the whole
body of editors followed the general lines which he had drawn.

In the list of his writings which was drawn up by Professor Whitney in
1892, one hundred and forty-four items are enumerated; but numerous
minor articles and book notices are not included, nor his contributions
to the great Sanskrit, Webster, and Century dictionaries, nor his
oversight of the German dictionary which goes by his name. He wrote
articles for the New American Cyclopedia, Johnson's Cyclopedia, and
the Encyclopaedia Britannica. He was a frequent contributor to the
_Nation_ and other periodicals. In view of the importance and extent
of many of his publications, his diligence and intellectual fertility
are extraordinary.

As a teacher of advanced students, Mr. Whitney was exacting. A two-hour
course under him in Sanskrit called for a larger outlay of time and
effort than a four-hour course under most other teachers. He required
precise knowledge of others as well as of himself. He was never
deceived by glittering generalities, nor satisfied with approximate
accuracy when absolute accuracy was attainable. He was modest, however,
and while he would not allow the violation of well-established
principles, yet in the translation of difficult and uncertain passages
he never insisted on the pupil's adoption of his view.

In controversy and criticism, Mr. Whitney struck hard; his sword was
piercing, even to the sundering of joint and marrow. But he was fair;
he never misrepresented his opponent. He never lost his temper and
struck blindly. He saw so clearly the absurdities and difficulties
of a false position that he felt bound to present it as it was, yet
without any thought of giving personal offence. For example, no one
would suppose that he expected to offend his friend and teacher, Weber,
by the remark that the latter had "unwittingly put himself in the
position of one attempting to prove on philological grounds that the
precessional movement of the equinoxes is from west to east, instead
of from east to west" (Oct. 1865); but the criticism is very similar
to that (which was counted severe) on Müller (July, 1876), that "even
the aid of Main and Hinds could not keep him, in his astronomical
reasonings, from assuming that, to any given observer, the ecliptic is
identical with his own horizon."

The only prolonged controversy in which Professor Whitney was ever
engaged was that with Professor Max Müller. His early relations
with Müller had been pleasant, and he had supported the latter's
candidacy for his chair at Oxford in 1860. His first public mention
(1867) of Müller's work on the translation of the Vedas was very
complimentary; but when the first volume of the translation appeared,
his review of it was exceedingly severe. In the fourteenth volume of
his _Indische Studien_, under the heading 'Zur Klarstellung,' Weber
gives an account of the conflict. According to him, the real source
of the controversy was Mr. Whitney's spirited reply to Müller's
criticisms on the Böhtlingk-Roth Dictionary. "Whitney hatte zwei
Vorlesungen Müller's kritisch besprochen,--scharf, wie es Whitney's
Art ist, aber ohne irgend welche persönliche Wendung, so wie sich
Gelehrte, denen es um ihre Meinung Ernst ist, zu streiten pflegen."
The occasion of the contest was the publication by Professor George
Darwin, in the _Contemporary Review_ of November, 1874, of a report
of Mr. Whitney's views. "Müller nahm sich denn auch gar nicht die
Zeit Whitney's Abhandlung selbst zu lesen, sondern trat gleich in dem
folgenden Januar-Heft der Review mit einer nur auf die Auszüge Mr.
Darwin's basirten Gegenschrift hervor." Some have wondered that Mr.
Whitney should care to follow up the matter so long, and even in 1892
should publish a brochure of 79 pages on 'Max Müller and the Science
of Language: a Criticism.' But the question with him rose far above
personalities: the truth was at stake. His mind, accurate by both
nature and training, shrank from allowing inaccurate statements and
false principles to be floated by a charming style. Great Britain in
this generation has had more than one scholar of note whose brilliant
form of statement, ingenious theories, and varied attainments have
sufficed to give them undue authority on subjects where they made
some grievous errors. Mr. Whitney felt that the higher a scholar's
position, the greater his authority, the more careful he should be in
all matters. He was heartily vexed by attempts to overlook and avoid
the real point at issue. His vigorous spirit may have felt a certain
enjoyment in a conflict; as an intellectual athlete he could appreciate
the beauty of a keen thrust or the weight of a heavy blow; but while he
did not fear a conflict, in some cases he avoided a controversy, even
when he had been misunderstood and misrepresented.

No sketch of Mr. Whitney's character would be complete which did not
mention his musical tastes. Music was always a source of pleasure and
recreation to him. He had a fine tenor voice; and when a young man he
was an acceptable and admired leader of the choir of Jonathan Edwards's
old church in Northampton. The story is told that his conversations
with the Rev. Dr. George E. Day, which led to his study of Sanskrit,
were more frequent and natural because of his weekly calls at the
pastor's house for the list of hymns to be sung. He was an active
member of the Mendelssohn Society of New Haven a score of years ago,
and did much to rouse the community to take interest in oratorios and
other choral music, writing for the newspapers appreciative accounts of
the works to be performed. He was prominent in securing for New Haven
concerts by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. One of the last occasions
which brought him into a public gathering was a University Chamber
Concert by the Kneisel Quartet. He was fond of singing hymns on Sunday
evenings, and while he cherished some of the old tunes of his youth,
he welcomed the introduction of the modern more ecclesiastical music.
While singing the old hymns he was as fervent and orthodox as his
Puritan ancestors.

Mr. Whitney was no recluse, nor a typical professor in manner. He
attracted men to him and enjoyed being with them. He was not at all
emotional, however, and cared little for general society. He gave a
rather extreme view of himself in a letter written in 1869: "I am of
a more than usually reserved and unsocial nature. I avoid society as
much as I can, and am never quite comfortable in the company of any
excepting those with whom I am most nearly bound. My besetting sin
is burying myself in my books and papers, and too much overlooking
all that is outside of them,--partly from natural tendencies, partly
because I feel that in that way I shall on the whole do most good and
give most pleasure to others." His bearing was perfectly simple and
unpretentious--in short, that of a gentleman.

Like Aristotle's "magnanimous man," he gave little heed to praise or
blame--not being elated or cast down by either. He loved learning for
its own sake and not for its reward of fame. The words which he wrote
with regard to his friend Professor James Hadley are strikingly true
of himself: "No one was ever more free from the desire to shine among
his fellows. His was a modesty entirely unfeigned, and free from every
taint of a lower feeling.... He devoted himself so entirely to truth
and virtue and duty, as he knew them, that there was left no room for
any thought of self. He neither extolled himself nor gave way unduly
to others." "He knew his power, but possessed it in the spirit of
moderation and reserve." He was eminently guileless--though by no means
a subject for imposition by others. He would have made an admirable
lawyer or statesman, but he could not have been a politician. He saw
truth clearly and abhorred anything like trickery or disingenuousness.
He was also thoroughly sane. Sentimental enthusiasm never led him to
denote as certain views which later were to be proved false. He had
few scientific retractions to make in the course of forty-five years
of publication. His statements on uncertain points were carefully
guarded. Where doubt existed, he was apt to feel it; in fact he was
called in Germany "der Skeptiker der Sprachwissenschaft." His sanity
restrained him from various excesses. His opinions on the desirability
of reform in the spelling of the English language were clear and
clearly expressed, and he was the first chairman of the committee
appointed by the Philological Association for the furtherance of this
reform in our country, but he saw so distinctly the difficulties
in the way of an abrupt change, at least for the present, that he
wasted no time in a Quixotic crusade. He was invited by the Japanese
government to prepare an opinion in regard to the adoption of English
as the official language of Japan--but he was not carried away by any
sentimental notions of English as a _Weltsprache_. His mind was like
a diamond, and his style was eminently clear and forcible. He never
strove to be eloquent, but always expressed his thoughts in the fewest
and simplest words. His was the style of a teacher rather than that of
a popular platform-lecturer, but was enlivened by a strong sense of
humor and by keen wit.

Professor Whitney's services to science and learning were freely
recognized, both at home and abroad. He received the degree of Ph.D.,
_honoris causa_, from the University of Breslau in 1865; that of LL.
D. from Williams College in 1868, from the College of William and Mary
in 1869, from Harvard in 1876, and from the University of Edinburgh in
1889; that of J.U.D. from St. Andrews University in Scotland in 1874;
that of L.H.D. from Columbia in 1887. He was a member of the National
Academy of Sciences; an honorary member of the Oriental or Asiatic
societies of Great Britain and Ireland, of Germany, of Bengal, of
Japan, and of Peking; of the Literary Societies of Leyden, of Upsala,
and of Helsingfors; fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh; member or
correspondent of the Academies of Dublin, of Turin, of Rome (_Lincei_),
of St. Petersburg, of Berlin, and of Denmark; also, correspondent of
the Institute of France; and Foreign Knight of the Prussian order _pour
le mérite_ for Science and Arts, being elected May 31, 1881, to fill
the vacancy made by the death of Thomas Carlyle.

In 1870 the Berlin Academy of Sciences voted him the first Bopp prize
for his publication of the Tāittirīya-Prātiçākhya, as the chief
contribution to Sanskrit philology during the preceding three years.

The following extracts from a brief article in the _Berliner
Nationalzeitung_, from the pen of Professor Albrecht Weber, form an
interesting companion-piece to the letter from the same scholar,
dated in December, 1852, which was quoted in the early part of this
sketch: "Der jüngst in Yalecollege verstorbene Professor William
Dwight Whitney war einer der ersten Indianisten und Sprachforscher
der Gegenwart. Seine Sanskritstudien absolvirte er bei uns in
Deutschland, hier in Berlin bei Weber und in Tübingen bei Roth. Beide
Gelehrte betrachten es als einen ihrer schönsten Ehrentitel, ihn zum
Schüler gehabt zu haben. Gleich seine erste Arbeit in den _Indischen
Studien_ ... war ein Meisterwerk und zeigte alle die Eigenschaften,
die seinen Arbeiten einen so hohen Werth verleihen sollten, Klarheit,
Sorgsamkeit, und Akribie im kleinsten Detail.... Heimgekehrt nach
Amerika, ward er der Begründer der dortigen, jetzt in reicher Blüthe
stehenden Sanskrit-Philologie, die sich besonders durch die von ihm
speziell betonte _statistische_ Methode grosse Verdienste erworben
hat, u. A. durch seine Schüler: Avery, Bloomfield, Hopkins, Lanman,
Jackson, Oertel, Perry, Smyth, Snyder, trefflich vertreten wird....
Seine Uebersetzung eines der ältesten vorhandenen Lehrbücher der
indischen Astronomie zeigte ihn als trefflichen Rechner und Astronom.
Schärfe der Kritik, Klarheit der Darstellung, Genauigkeit der Arbeit
sind allen seinen Werken als Stempel aufgedrückt. Sein reifstes Werk
wohl ist seine 'Sanskrit-Grammatik,' ... die erste _historische_
Darstellung derselben, gewissermassen ein _gründliches_ Résumé aus dem
grossen Petersburger Sanskrit-Wörterbuch von Böhtlingk und Roth. Seine
Arbeiten erstreckten sich im Uebrigen auf die verschiedensten Gebiete
der Sprachwissenschaft.... Deutschland verliert in ihm einen der
wärmsten Freunde, die es in Amerika hatte, Amerika einen seiner besten
Gelehrten, und die Wissenschaft im grossen und ganzen einen ihrer
ersten Koryphäen."

On August 28, 1856, Professor Whitney married Elizabeth Wooster
Baldwin, daughter of the Hon. Roger Sherman Baldwin, of New Haven
(ex-Governor of Connecticut and U. S. Senator), great-granddaughter
of Roger Sherman, and great-great-granddaughter of President Thomas
Clap, of Yale. Six children, three sons and three daughters, were
born to them; of whom one son (the Hon. Edward B. Whitney, Assistant
Attorney-General of the U. S.) and the three daughters survive. The
daughters assisted their father in some of his later publications in
the field of modern languages, and have done literary work of their

Just after a hard summer's work, at the very beginning of the college
year in the autumn of 1886, Professor Whitney was prostrated by a
severe disorder of the heart. For a time he was forbidden by his
physician to do more than a minimum of work. He was obliged to avoid
fatigue and excitement, and was limited strictly in his physical
exercise. Those who had seen him return invigorated and exhilarated
from a ten-miles' walk in the country were deeply pained to watch his
slow, measured gait. He surprised many by his graceful submission to
restrictions which he must have felt most keenly, and his household
was still the brightest and most cheerful in the city. The gentler
side of his nature became more prominent than before. His face grew
more and more beautiful, with his white hair and beard, and delicate
fair complexion. Though not an old man, he became truly venerable in
appearance, and his presence was a real benediction to all whom he
met. He was obliged to abandon entirely his work with undergraduate
classes, but continued his classes in Sanskrit, receiving the students
in his study at his home. During most of the past year he had six of
these exercises each week. He did not abandon his other scholarly
work. During the early years of this period of weakness, the Century
Dictionary was going through the press and received his care. Every
year witnessed his publication of some scientific paper or papers. He
aided in the plans for the World's Congress of Philology, last year.
One of his intimate associates, Professor Lounsbury, has written of
him: "To me, at least, words seem inadequate to describe the quiet
heroism which gave serenity and calm to his latter days, and the
unflinching resolution with which he met and discharged every duty of a
life over which the possibility of sudden death was always casting its

After an illness of about two weeks, Mr. Whitney passed away from this
life, during sleep, on the morning of Thursday, June 7, 1894.

In the death of William Dwight Whitney, this country has lost one of
her most distinguished men, one who had been recognized throughout
the world as one of the highest authorities in his department of
learning, and who had been for forty years the leader of oriental and
linguistic studies in America and the personal master of a majority of
the American scholars in his department. Yale University has lost one
of her most brilliant and able scholars, one of her wisest and most
faithful teachers, whose influence always made for diligent and honest
research and statement. His publications have had a lasting effect on
scholarship. His personal influence will long endure. In the words of
Professor Lanman, "for power of intellect, conjoined with purity of
soul and absolute genuineness of character, we shall not soon look upon
his like again."


[1] The writer desires to acknowledge his special obligations to
Professor Salisbury for allowing him access to original documents, and
to Dr. Hanns Oertel for calling his attention to publications which
would otherwise have escaped his notice.

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