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Letters of a Lunatic A Brief Exposition of My University Life, During the Years 1853-54   By:

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LETTERS OF A LUNATIC,

OR

A BRIEF EXPOSITION OF MY UNIVERSITY LIFE,

DURING THE YEARS 1853 54.

BY

G. J. ADLER, A. M.,

PROFESSOR OF GERMAN LITERATURE IN THE UNIVERSITY OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, MEMBER OF THE AMERICAN ORIENTAL, AND OF THE AMERICAN ETHNOLOGICAL SOCIETIES, &C., &C.

Spectatum admissi risum teneatis, amici? Horat. Ars Poet. v. 5.

[Greek: mê ny toi ou chraismê skêptron kai stemma theoio]! Iliad I. v. 28.

PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR. 1854.

PREFATORY NOTE TO THE PUBLIC.

IN a recent publication on German Literature, I hinted to the reader my design of giving an account of an event in my personal history, which I alleged to be the cause of an absentment from my proper place of study, and consequently of an injustice to my public. I now proceed to fulfil my promise, by offering to my personal friends, and to such as are interested in matters of academic education and morality, a few of the many letters written by me during the past year. I might have added others, both of an anterior and of a more recent date. The question however was not to write a volume, but simply a brief exposition, of a page or two from my life in connection with a public institution of the metropolis, and thus to bring a matter of private and iniquitous dispute before the forum of the public, after having vainly sought redress in private. My main object was of course to vindicate and defend my character, my professional honor and my most sacred rights as a rational man and as a public educator, against the invasions of narrow minded and unjust aggressors, whose machinations have for several years been busily at work in subverting what other men have reared before them, in retarding and impeding what the intelligence of our age and country is eager to accelerate and to promote. The much agitated question of University reform and of the liberty of academic instruction, which of late years has engaged the attention of some of the best intellects on both sides of the Atlantic, and which within a month past has again occupied the public mind, and even called forth legislative intervention may, however, perhaps likewise receive some additional light from the following pages, which I now submit, not from any motive of vanity, or from the expectation of self aggrandisement or of histrionic applause; but from a sense of duty to the cause of liberal culture and of sound morality, to which I have devoted many a year of laborious effort and of earnest thought.

NEW YORK UNIVERSITY, } G. J. A. June , 1854. }

LETTER I.

New York University, Sept. 10th, 1853.

Rev. Isaac Ferris, D. D.

Dear Sir, I deem it a duty of justice towards myself, as well as to the honor of the Institution of which I am an officer and yourself the newly elected head, to bring to your consideration a few circumstances from the history of our incidental intercourse during the past winter, which at the time of occurrence, struck me with painful surprise, and which I cannot suffer to pass without my most earnest protestations.

1st, During the earlier part of the winter, in passing out of my lecture room one morning, I met you in the hall of the University with a pale face, asking me in the most uncalled for and singular manner the strange question: " Are you my superior? " The reply, which I ought to have written on the spot to such an enquiry, I would now make by saying, that such an idea never occurred to me, and that, as I had never seen any thing of your presence in the actual performance of duty in the University at the time of my instruction to the students, such an idea never could have suggested itself to me... Continue reading book >>




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