In the autumn of 1872 Professor Hil came here to teach Rhetoric and English Composition. His first year' work was enormous; not only did he have all the juniors and all the sophomores in Rhetoric, and - if I remember rightly - all the sophomores in Themes: but feeling that students needed more practice in writing than the college provided for them, he took upon himself the criticism of two extra sets of sophomore themes. From that time to this, Professor Hill has been steadily working to build up an English Department; and although obliged to give most of his strength to Composition, he has found time to conduct one or two courses in Literature. In these he professes not to treat exhaustively English Literature since Shakspere, but merely to guide students in an intelligent study of the lives and the writings of certain masters of the last two centuries. Everybody admits that more courses in English Literature are desirable; it is no secret that they are contemplated: but the recent growth of the Department has naturally followed the most urgent demand - that for courses in English Composition.
In working for the study of English, Professor Hill has fought successfully distressing sickness, indifference in the preparatory schools, disorder among the students, lack of sympathy in the Faculty, and bitter personal opposition out of the Faculty. He has established a department which does not pretend to be remarkably scholarly, but which does its best with the problem before it, a problem that none but men who do not teach English have ever solved to their own satisfaction. Loaded down with undergraduate literature, making many mistakes of method in instruction where all methods are as yet experimental, the English Department works on; and feels year by year more gratitude to the critic at once severe and kind who has already made something out of nothing, and who with good health and fair play will make in time a department of which not even "John Donne" need be ashamed.
Let me add that I was a member of the first and worst sophomore class that Professor Hill ever taught; that as student, as tutor in Greek, and as instructor in English, I have watched the growth of the English Department from its very birth; and lastly, that I write this letter without either the approval or the knowledge of Professor Hill.
L. B. R. BRIGGS.