Francis J. Child, of the class of 1846, and Professor of English Literature, died at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, September 11, after an illness of several weeks, from kidney trouble.
Francis James Child was born in Boston, Mass., February 1, 1825. He attended the Boston public schools and prepared for college at the Boston Latin School. He graduated from Harvard in 1846 with the degree of Master of Arts, in a class containing some of Harvard's most famous graduates. Among his classmates were Professor Charles Eliot Norton, Professor George Martin Lane, Senator Hoar, Dr. Calvin Ellis, Mr. Fitzedward Hall and Professor Charles Short. While in college Professor Child was a distinguished Hasty Pudding man, and it was he and his companions who wrote the song of "The Lone Fishball."
After graduating Professor Child became a tutor here, first of mathematics and afterward of rhetoric and history. In 1849-50 he studied and travelled in Europe, and in 1851 succeeded Professor E. T. Channing as professor of rhetoric at Harvard, which chair he held until 1876, when he exchanged it for that of English literature, which he held until his death.
Graduating from Harvard in 1846 with the degree of A. M., in 1854 Gottingen University conferred upon him the degree of Ph. D. In 1884 he received from Harvard the degree of LL. D., and in 1887 that of L. H. D. from Columbia. He was a fellow of the American Academy and was the secretary of the Early English Text Society.
Professor Child specially distinguished himself as a scholar of Anglo-Saxon and early English literature, and ranked foremost in the knowledge of songs and ballads. By his works he has done more to save to us the old songs and ballads of England and Scotland from oblivion than any other man. He was a great Shakespearian scholar, and in 1848 published a work entitle "Four Old Plays," containing a collection of old English plays. He was also a great lover of Chaucer and Spenser, and in 1858 edited an edition of the latter's poems.
In 1857-59 Professor Child published his first edition of "English and Scottish Ballads," the greatest work of that description that had appeared up to that time; but afterwards he edited a new edition entitled "English and Scottish Popular Ballads," and this work has gained worldwide renown for its author. Its extent cannot be comprehended until a person understands that this collection was compiled directly from the old folk lore of every nation of Europe, and required not only a great genins but many years of careful search and study.
Besides this great work Professor Child edited many others, among which are "A Complete Collection of the British Poets from Chaucer to Wordsworth," "Poems of Comfort and Sorrow," which appeared in 1865, and his "Observations on the Language of Chaucer and Gower," published in 1869.
Professor Child always led a true scholar's life of quiet and tranquillity. He was a great lover of nature and cultivated flowers with his own hands. His rose garden, which is known for miles around, contains the greatest collection of roses to be found in this vicinity.
For fifty years Professor Child has taught here, and his name is revered not only by every Harvard man but by every student of English literature the world over.
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