Address at the dedication of the Jenkin Lloyd Jones Chair of English Literature at Lincoln Memorial University, May 13, 1920 (Excerpts)


The principal address of the evening was that of Jane Addams of Hull House, Chicago, who spoke from her long years of [cooperation] with Mr. Jones, in part as follows:

"It is a pleasure to be able to come and say a word for my old friend, Jenkin Lloyd Jones, on this occasion. It is not often that a chair is named so aptly as that a Chair of English Literature should bear the name of Dr. Jones. He not only interpreted literature but enkindled the love of it in many people and extended the use of it among great numbers of people who would otherwise have lived stupid and dull lives.

"He possessed a singular faculty for doing this. In the early days of Hull House when we wanted to bring the message of truth and beauty to grown-up people, Dr. Jones was the only man who could do it, and he would succeed where others failed and would put a permanent stamp upon the lives of those who loved him. He would interpret Victor Hugo and thrill our boys and older people with the story of Les Miserables so that long afterward they would describe themselves as influenced by the reformation of Jean Valjean or the Bishop's kindliness. Teaching requires a great technique as well as the desire to help, and Dr. Jones had gained that technique.

"His life was that of the pioneer, like the lives of hundreds who attend this university. His father came to this country from Wales and he and all the household were accustomed to hard work. He postponed his own education, first on account of family claims and then for the claim of his country to which he gave three years of service. After that he graduated from Meadville Theological Seminary and started his first church in Winnetka, Illinois, his heart burning with his desire to help other young people and older ones. He kept this ideal of service before him. His definition of religion, probably familiar to you all, was 'Freedom, Fellowship and Character.' This he taught to his first little church in Winnetka and then in Chicago for more than thirty years. Freedom, Fellowship and Character -- a religion of head and hand. No other words are greater than these and they were to him not words, not a creed, but a living thing, part of every moment of his existence which was continuous service along many lines for Freedom; his whole life was one long Fellowship with every human being whom he could reach; and Character was what he always stood for and exemplified so perfectly.

"He had the gift of making people study when they came to his classes. A group of the women of his church was dissatisfied with their Sunday School work and came to him about it. He replied: 'You need to have more good teachers. Come and study with me. You will then have something to give to the children.' And so he began his famous seven-year course in the History of Religions. Women have told me this work made them over, made them use their minds and read worth-while books and get the knowledge in such form that they could hand it out with clarity, decision and beauty, in a way to intrigue the minds of little children. Thus he was a very great teacher, even in the narrower professional sense of the word, as well as in the larger sense.

"It was my privilege to work with him for many doleful reforms. One could always count upon him. However difficult the cause, however hard the work, he was always ready to take a stand and to sound the trumpet call. Often he made the cause, because he made it his own.

"So I say again that it is very fitting that this chair should be so named. He conducted many classes in the study of Browning in the days when Browning was supposed to be difficult to understand, a belief Dr. Jones loved to make fun of. He said Browning was not saying the obvious but saying profound things; that of course we could understand it if we put our minds to it. He saw beauty and ideas and also the value of form and of the technical side of poetry. He was a lover of Whitman and Tolstoy, of one idealist after another who could help us in this hard world where it is difficult to bring the clashing elements into harmony. This he believed could be done with the aid of the intellect. Life could be touched by the things of beauty, by the lovelier side of things. He gave the people the jewels which he had sifted out as of permanent value from the great gifts of the past and gave them a touchstone whereby they could always know the things that are fine.

"And he believed that although the past holds great inspirations for us, still the greatest inspiration lies in the things yet to be done, the things that still need to be said, not in those that have been said. He always kept his face toward the future. He loved the newer literature, had many friends among the younger poets, was interested even in free verse, and held a brief for it when it was attacked. Because he held his mind open and believed in tomorrow, he was a refuge to the younger writers as well as an interpreter of the old.

"I bespeak for those who fill this chair, therefore, the open mind, a belief that there are great human possibilities in us all.

"He cared a great deal for the University of Wisconsin and its plan for sending out traveling libraries to the people, even to groups of two or three who ask for them. Such a plan ought to be worked out by this university for this mountain population, isolated as the people are in this region. This reciprocity between the state and the people was an ideal he ever held dear.

"So I am happy to be here at this time and to be identified even for a moment with his name and that of Lincoln whom he loved.

He understood Lincoln; was an interpreter of him through many years, believed in the things Lincoln [page 2] believed in, was himself a revelation of Lincoln to many people.

"This is a solemn moment. There is always in our hearts the desire that the friend who is dear to us should not be forgotten, but his memory held close and linked up with things that are fine and that are to be perpetuated in the future. This has been done in giving his name to this chair of literature and making it a liberal platform for the things that are finest.

"This chair should do service also in getting together the old songs -- the earlier folk music of the people of these mountains. Whoever has this chair will have an opportunity for research, for uniting the past with the living present, for bringing new vigor into the teaching of English Literature. With much interest we shall all watch the fine future of this chair in breaking a new path in the study of literature."