Timothy Dwight


Rev. Dr. Timothy Dwight

Notable Americans
President of Yale
The Smooth Divine

Rev. Dr. Timothy Dwight
(14 May 1752, Northampton MA)
(11 Feb 1817, New Haven CT
+ Mary Woolsey
(b:11 Apr 1754)

    Timothy Dwight
    James Dwight[married Susan Breed]
    Dr. Benjamin Woolsey Dwight[married Sophia W. Strong]
    Rev. Sereno Edward Dwight[married Susan Edwards Daggett]
    Rev. William T. Dwight

Timothy Dwight was married to the 1st cousin of Henry's wife, Sarah Welles. Dwight performed the funeral service for Henry's father-in-law, Rev. Noah Welles, as well as for Henry's wife, Sarah.

Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans
Dwight, Timothy, educator, was born in Northampton, Mass., May 14, 1752; son of Maj. Timothy and Mary (Edwards) Dwight; grandson of Col. Timothy and Experience (King) Dwight, and of Jonathan and Sarah (Pierpont) Edwards; great-grandson of Nathaniel and Mehitable (Partridge) Dwight; great-great-grandson of Capt. Timothy and Anna (Flint) Dwight, and great-great-great-grandson of John and Hannah Dwight of Dedham, the immigrants, 1634-35. He was graduated at Yale in 1769, sharing with Nathan Strong the honors of the class. He was principal of Hopkins grammar school, 1769-71; tutor at Yale, 1771-77, during which time he studied law; was [p.360] licensed to preach in 1777 and served as chaplain in Parson's brigade of the Connecticut line, 1777-78.

The death of his father called him home and he took charge of the farm, occasionally preaching in the neighborhood churches, 1778-83. At the same time he conducted a day school and while New Haven was in the hands of the British, he had under his care several of the refugeed Yale students. He was a representative in the Massachusetts legislature, 1782, and refused a nomination as representative in congress. He was pastor of the church at Greenfield Hill, Fairfield, Conn.,1783-95, and established there his celebrated academy and became the pioneer of higher education of women, placing both sexes on an equal footing in his school. During this period he secured the union of the Congregational and Presbyterian churches in New England.

He was president of Yale college from Sept. 8, 1795, to Jan. 11, 1817, and Livingston professor of divinity pro tempore, 1795-1805, and by election, 1805-1817. He found the college with a narrow and pedantic curriculum, with the bitterest of feeling existing between the freshmen and the upper-class men, and between the students and the faculty, and with the burden of a primary system. These he reformed, and at his death the 110 students had increased to 313 and the college had taken rank as one of the model university schools in America.

He was married in March, 1777, to Mary, daughter of Benjamin Woolsey of Long Island and they had eight sons, the eldest of whom, Timothy (1778-1884), was a merchant in New Haven and gave $5000 to endow the Dwight professorship of didactic theology at Yale. He received from the college of New Jersey the degree of S.T.D. in 1787, and from Harvard that of LL.D. in 1810.

His master dissertation was: History, Eloquence and Poetry of the Bible; while a chaplain in the army he wrote the patriotic song Columbia; his most ambitious work was his epic The Conquest of Canaan and his most popular pastoral poem was Greenfield Hill (1794). He revised Watts's Psalms with additions of his own and made a selection of hymns, introduced in the worship of the Presbyterian churches by the General assembly. His published books include: Travels in New England and New York (4 vols,, 1821); Theology Explained and Defended in a Course of 173 Sermons (5 vols., 1818); The Genuineness and Authenticity of the New Testament (1793); Discourse on the Character of Washington (1800); Observations on Language (1816); Essay on Light (1816). He died in New Haven, Conn., Jan. 11, 1817.

The Smooth Divine
THERE smiled the smooth Divine, unused to wound
The sinner's heart with hell's alarming sound.
No terrors on his gentle tongue attend;
No grating truths the nicest ear offend.
That strange new-birth, that methodistic grace,
Nor in his heart nor sermons found a place.
Plato's fine tales he clumsily retold,
Trite, fireside, moral seesaws, dull as old,--
His Christ and Bible placed at good remove,
Guild hell-deserving, and forgiving love.
'Twas best, he said, mankind should cease to sin:
Good fame required it; so did peace within.
Their honors, well he knew, would ne'er be driven;
But hoped they still would please to go to heaven.
Each week he paid his visitation dues;
Coaxed, jested, laughed; rehearsed the private news;
Smoked with each goody, thought her cheese excelled;
Her pipe he lighted, and her baby held.
Or placed in some great town, with lacquered shoes,
Trim wig, and trimmer gown, and glistening hose,
He bowed, talked politics, learned manners mild,
Most meekly questioned, and most smoothly smiled;
At rich men's jests laughed loud, their stories praised,
Their wives' new patterns gazed, and gazed, and gazed;
Most daintly on pampered turkeys dined,
Nor shrunk with fasting, nor with study pined:
Yet from their churches saw his brethern driven,
Who thundered truth, and spoke the voice of heaven,
Chilled trembling guilt in Satan's headlong path,
Charmed the feet back, and roused the ear of death.
"Let fools," he cried, "starve on, while prudent I
Snug in my nest shall live, and snug shall die."

Letter sent to master Timmy Dwight
7 ys old Dec. 7. 1785

Master Timmy brisk and airy
Blythe as Oberon the fairy
On thy head thy cousin wishes
Thousand and ten thousand blisses.

Never may thy wicket ball
In a well or puddle fall;
Or thy wild ambitious kite
O'er the Elm's thick foliage light.

When on bended knee thou sittest
And the mark in fancy hittest
May thy marble truly trace
Where thy wishes mark'd the place.

If at hide and seek you play,
All involved in the hay
Titt'ring hear the joyful sound
"Timmy never can be found."

If you hop or if you run
Or whatever is the fun,
Vic'try with her sounding pinion
Hover o'er her little minion.

But when hunger calls the boys
From their helter skelter joys:
Bread and cheese in order standing
For their most rapacious handling
Timmy may thy luncheon be
More than Ben's as five to three.

But if hasty pudding's dish
Meet thy vast capacious wish -
Or lob-lollys charming jelly
Court thy cormorantal belly
Mortal foe to megre fast
Be thy spoonful first & last.

2nd Yale President
Timothy Dwight


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