Review, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, USA
'Your Affectionate Son, Azro'
Among Rochester's earliest students was Azro Dyer, who entered the University in 1852 at the age of 16 and remained
for two years before transferring to Dartmouth. He went on to become a superior court judge in Indiana and died in 1923.
In 1989, his great-grandson gave the University 10 letters Dyer had written
from Rochester to his father in Rumsey, Kentucky. Signed, "Your Affectionate Son, Azro," they offer an edifying and entertaining look at how much has changed and how much remains the same in the life of a Rochester freshman. Here are some excerpts.
October 2, 1852
My Dear Father,
Everything is so new, so entirely foreign to anything to which I have been accustomed. . . . I have seen strange faces, until I think a familiar one would be quite refreshing. Even money in a bank in Kentucky seems to me to have twice the value of any other. And yet I am not homesick, not at all. . . .
November 21, 1852
In the first place, we are compelled to work too hard. In my opinion, our time is crowded with too many studies. Just think--Greek reader, two Greek grammars, Algebra, Analysis of the English language, parsing in Milton, exercises in synonyms, History, and Essay once a week. Now that is nine lessons, and consequently some are neglected. The old saying, "If you have too many irons in the fire, some will get burned," is very true. . . .
My chum and I rise at half past five in the morning and I study until 15 minutes before nine. Then we attend chapel and hear a chapter from Luke or John and progress until nine. We then spend an hour with Professor Quinby, who seems to know instinctively which problems we [are weak in]. And then two hours with our tutor, Wayland, who sometimes gives such long lessons that we are unable to recite them in two hours. At twelve we go home and I [sleep until lunch]. I study then until five when I go to the Atheneum (Reading Room), where I read the Journal until six. From dinner until I go to bed (which is at ten) I have previously studied, but will hereafter attend lectures which are given in the Atheneum. . . .
January 16, 1853
Tutor Wayland is unpopular because he cannot make himself pleasant and conducts himself as if he were always mad. If I believed in transmigration, I should think he once had been a bear. The other professors, while they are learned men, will dare to smile. . . .
As yet, I room with D.D., although I would prefer someone else. He is just the same man he has always been. It takes but a slight effort of the imagination to see him presiding over the destiny of a Kentucky schoolhouse. . . .
The snow lies deep on the ground already and it is still snowing. I saw more sleighs yesterday, and finer ones than "ever was dreamed of in my philosophy." The skating has been good on the canal. . . .
Your affectionate son,
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