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REV. JOHN BARKER, D.D.,
sketches. There never was but one model man.
There never was but one model teacher. It is LATE PRESIDENT OF ALLEGHANY COLLEGE.
the fault of surviving admirers to overstate the BY REV. C. KINGSLEY, D. D.
good qualities and conceal the defects of their THE JHE painter who throws upon canvas that subject. This is no advantage to the dead, but strange index of the soul, the human face
a positive injury to the living. Instead of an and form, and gives apparent life to the passions insight into the character of the real man, we and emotions which look out through the eye are too frequently entertained with the ideal of and speak through the lip, may well say he paints the writer. The truth of history is thus sacrifor immortality.
ficed to the demands of a morbid admiration. The sculptor, whose genius enables him to Even among those whom God employed as the in. convert the rude marble into forms of beauty, struments and dispensers of his revelation to purity, wisdom, and dignity, lives in his own mankind, we find, notwithstanding their high creations long after his body has mingled with and unspeakably-responsible position, the errors the dust.
and failings incident to fallen humanity; and But the educator works upon the soul itself. we find their recorded defects in the same history His canvas is a deathless spirit. His block of which commemorates their faith and their trimarble is already stamped with immortality. It umphs. Had it been otherwise with the record, is his business to mold into forms of living the very fact would have cast a suspicion upon beauty, purity, wisdom, and dignity a conscious, its truthfulness by presenting human nature not intelligent, immortal soul. There is no more as it is in fact, but as it was imagined to exist in useful position, there is no higher calling, there the heroes of the story. is no more responsible post assigned to mortals John Barker was born in Foggathrope, East than that of the Christian teacher. Such a man, Riding of Yorkshire, England, March 17, 1813. though unseen and too often unthought of, lives His parents emigrated to this country three years on from generation to generation, and from age after, and settled in the state of New York. to age, in the noble aspirations he has kindled, From a child he was a lover of books, and arin the enterprise and intelligence he has fostered, dently and enthusiastically devoted to the pursuit and in the high and holy aims with which his of knowledge. Although possessing an unusual labors have inspired humanity.
flow of animal spirits, he sacrificed the usual Dr. John Barker was preëminently a Christian sports and recreations of childhood and youth to educator. He felt, and all acquainted with bim gratify his intense thirst for knowledge. His felt, that this was his sphere of duty. His edu- physical development undoubtedly suffered from cation, tastes, talents, and inclinations combined this cause. A better physical education in conto fit him peculiarly for this department of labor. nection with mental and moral culture is a want It is to his character as an educator of youth of the age. The three harmonized is necessary that the attention of the reader is more particu-to the perfection of our nature. The subject is larly invited in this article. But we are not just beginning to attract that attention it should about to say that even in his character as an have received centuries gone by. He was thoreducator any more than in his character as a oughly prepared for college before he arrived at man, he was a model or was perfect. Extrav- the age usually required as one of the conditions agant laudation is the bane of biographical of admission, and was obliged to wait till he was
fourteen to be admitted into Geneva College, ence for God, and a deep sense of religious obliNew York. He entered this institution in 1827, gation. He delighted greatly in all the means and graduated in 1831, having in a very thorough of grace, and was always at his post as a Chris- | manner completed every part of the college tian soldier, unless physically incapacitated. The
So highly were his attainments esti- Scriptures were familiar to him as household mated by Geneva College that he was afterward words. He often sat under the preaching of offered a professorship in the institution.
those every way his inferiors, but never as the After graduating he taught a private school in cold critic. A stranger would have pointed to Geneva, New York, for four years. During this him as one of the most humble and devout heartime he embraced religion and joined the Meth-ers, ever eager to learn of Him who is meek and odist Episcopal Church. His conversion was lowly. He was generous to a fault, always ready clear and powerful, and he ever afterward
to divide the last dollar with the needy. A perevinced a strong assurance of faith. About a son or a cause in need carried his heart captire year after his conversion he received license as at once, and he poured out free as water what he a local preacher in the Methodist Episcopal had for the relief of the needy object, often girChurch. About this time he was elected to the ing beyond his ability. Professorship of Mathematics in Genesee Wes- In 1843 Dr. Barker was united in marriage leyan Seminary, where he remained five years. with Miss Ellen Morrison, a most estimable lads, In 1840 he was elected Vice-President and Pro- the daughter of the President of the Board of fessor of Natural Philosophy and Chemistry in Trustees of the College. Three children remain Alleghany College. In 1845 he accepted the as the fruit of this marriage. His first wife died Professorship of Ancient Languages in the about nine years after their marriage. In 1853 Transylvania University in Kentucky. Two he was again married to a widow lady in Lexingyears later he was elected President of Alleghany ton, Kentucky, who still survives him. She came College, which post he filled with eminent success among strangers to encounter prejudices which till the close of his life, on February 26, 1860. the world has long since stereotyped in the case
Dr. Barker was a warm-hearted friend, kind, of all step-mothers. And never were prejudices generous, and sympathizing. His constitution, more triumphantly overcome. She proved to be we think, was impaired by too close application that kind of a wife which Solomon says is of the to study while young; yet he always manifested Lord. No mother was ever more true to her own unusual buoyancy of spirit, particularly in the children than she to those of her husband; and, company of his friends. Here he delighted to with the spirit of noble Christian heroine, she throw off the restraints which, right or wrong, has determined to devote herself to the raising the world has thought proper to impose on men and training of those dear ones, now bereft in his position, especially in their official inter- of both parents. course with men. He was so frec, so easy, so Dr. Barker was preëminently free from what natural in conversation as to relieve the most may be denominated the besetting sin of too timid at once from all embarrassment.
many men in high positions. Envy and jealstant reader from a child, with a memory that ousy found no place in his heart. He rejoiced retained every thing, his fund of information, of in the prosperity of others as though it had been incident, of anecdote, was truly astonishing. It his own. If another succeeded better than bimwas seldom, indeed, that any subject could be self, instead of envying him he looked upon bis mooted upon which he was not well posted. His success as a part of his own wealth. In this hearty enjoyment of refined society, his fine flow spirit he looked upon the things of others. It of social feeling, combined with remarkable con- has been said as a half apology for what too versational powers and ready wit, rendered his often exists among men that “mountains never presence a charming acquisition to the social touch at the top." True, they do not, but the circle. His feelings on these occasions often reason is a diminution of their magnitude as rose to a degree of hilarity and mirthfulness, they rise up into the regions of perpetual frost. and such was his keen sense of the ludicrous, They touch where they are the greatest. Althat when he chose to convulse an audience though poor in this world's goods, Dr. Barker with laughter, to surrender at discretion was inherited the earth. We never knew a man who the best thing to be done. If he erred on these we believe could more truly apply to himself the occasions it was in sometimes giving too loose precious Scripture, “All are yours." His unselfrein to the playful caperings of a bounding ish heart inherited all things, and seemed to be heart, which refused to grow old with the lapse in sympathy with all things but sin. The mode!
esty of science, the meekness, purity, and hopeYet in all this there remained a profound rever- fulness of the Gospel, combined to constitute for !
him a wealth compared with which "gold is mathematics. In every one of these departpoor.”
ments he was eminently successful. In regard As a preacher Dr. Barker was all, and more, to most teachers, although they may be good than can reasonably be expected of one whose general scholars, there is some one study or life is consecrated to another work. He never class of studies in which they excel, and for fell into the dry and prosy habit too common which alone they possess that enthusiasm indisand almost inevitable to men in his position, and pensable to eminent success. But not so with with his amount of other labor. No man who Dr. Barker. All knowledge had charms for him. preaches but occasionally, and without that Even dry statistics were treasured up with avidpreparation which consists in being wholly deity, and could be brought forth at will. While it voted to one work, can do himself full justice as may be said of most teachers respectively, such a preacher. His pulpit efforts, however, were or such a study is his forte, it could be said of always characterized by zeal and freshness. him, every thing in the college course was his They were rather practical than doctrinal, and forte. He loved every branch ardently, and so bis extemporaneous efforts we always thought far as any one could judge equally well. Latin were the best. His set efforts were often too and Greek inflexions which he had heard for the highly wrought to be most useful to the general thousandth time, mathematical and geometrical ity of hearers. But when his theme led him to definitions which he had been driving into the draw upon the treasures of Christian experience, heads of students for thirty years, seemed on no man was happier in bringing out the marrow each repetition to kindle the same pleasure in and fatness of the Gospel. Although he never his mind as when first apprehended by the young received an appointment to what has been tech- pupil thirsting for knowledge. He was singularly nically called the "regular work," yet few men happy in being able to retrace the mental prochave been more truly pastors. He watched over ess by which his own knowledge had been acthe spiritual interests of the students with as quired, and to put himself precisely in the place much Christian solicitude, we venture to affirm, of the learner. This is one of the great secrets as any pastor ever felt for his flock, was as of success in teaching, and yet it is not every acspeedily by the side of the sick and dying, as complished scholar that can do it. He enjoyed ready on all occasions to administer spiritual with an ever-recurring freshness the mental stimcounsel, as competent to point the inquiring soul ulus which knowledge imparts. His words of to “the Lamb of God," to recorer any that were instruction seemed to taste good to himself, and out of the way, Nor were his labors of this kind even the dull student, who was at first unable to by any means confined to the students, as the appreciate their flavor, was, nevertheless, imbundreds to whom his Christian counsels in time pressed that there was something good in them of trouble can testify.
hy the way they were relished by the teacher. The Transylvania University conferred on him There is what, for want of a better word, we will the degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1848. Wash-call unction as well in teaching as in all public ington College, Pennsylvania, conferred the same speaking, by which the truth is felt to flow easily degree soon after.
from a heart deeply in sympathy with it at the But, as we have already intimated, teaching same time that it enlists the corresponding symwas evidently the sphere for which Providence pathies of the hearer. This is another indispensdesigned him. Here he was fully at home, and able element of success in all public instruchere every faculty and acquisition found ample tion. However valuable and instructive knowlplay. The business of education was his life edge may be in itself, if it be spit out in such a long work. He was never out of school from way as to give the hydrophobia to each sentence the time he first entered as a pupil till he was as it passes the lips of the teacher, the pupil will removed from the Presidency of Alleghany Col. shudder at receiving it. He will take it, if at lege by death. He was correcting some compo- all, not as the keen appetite relishes wholesome sitions of students when he fell from his chair food, but as the sick child takes medicine. Or, and expired without uttering a word. We have if the teacher discourses as from the land of heard him remark that he desired to so spend dreams, it will be no wonder if the pupil, catchhis life as a teacher that the word “faithful" | ing the inspiration of the occasion, goes to sleep. might be written on his tombstone. We wish With this unwavering interest in knowledge, all epitaphs were as true as would be this word this passion for teaching, joined with a most in such a place. In Lima he taught mathemat- truly-benevolent heart, and an aptitude for illusics; at Transylvania, ancient languages; at Alle- tration which we have never known exceeded, ghany College, first the natural sciences, then the reader will be at no loss to know why Dr. moral science and belles-lettres, and finally Barker should have been ardently lored by his