North American Scholar

BECK, Charles

  • Image
  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1798-08-19
  • Born City: Heidelberg
  • Born State/Country: Germany
  • Parents: His father, a merchant, merchant, died while Charles was young; mother married the theologian and Heidelberg professor Dr. De Wette.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1866-03-19
  • Death City: Cambridge
  • Death State/Country: MA
  • Married: Louisa A. Henshaw, 1827; Mrs. Teresa Henshaw Phillips, 1831.
  • Education:

    study at Berlin; studied theology at Heidelberg; ordained in Lutheran ministry, 7 July 1822; Ph.D. Tubingen, 1823.

  • Professional Experience:

    Docent, Basel, 1823-4; instr. Lat. & gymnastics, Round Hill School (Northampton, MA), 1825-30; founded school at Philipstown-on-the-Hudson, NY, 1830-2; prof. Lat. Harvard, 1832-50; mem. AAAS, 1845; state repres. Massachusetts.

  • Publications:

    A Treatise on Gymnastics of F. L. Jahn (trans.) (Northampton, MA, 1828); Medea, Tragedy of Seneca (Cambridge, 1834); P. Papinii Statii: Ad Calpurnium Pisonem (Onoldi, 1835); An Introduction to the Metres of Horace (Cambridge, 1835); Cicero, Brutus (Cambridge, 1837); C. G. Zumpt, Syntax of the Latin Language (trans.) (Boston, 1838; 2d ed., Boston, 1844); Euripides Hercules Furens (Cambridge, 1843); The Age of Petronius Arbiter (Cambridge, 1856 = AAAS Memoirs 10 [1857] 21-178); Bernays' Chronicle of Septimius Severus (Cambridge, 1862 = Christian Examiner [Jan. 1862]: 21-40); The Manuscripts of Petronius Arbiter Described and Collated Cambridge, 1863); On the Consolidation of the Worcester and Western Railroads (Boston, 1864).

  • Notes:

    Beck's father died when Charles was a boy and his mother married Dr. De Wette, a theologian at Heidelberg and Tubingen, where young Charles grew up. Unfortunately his stepfather was obliged by political conditions to remove his family to Basel, where Charles had his first employment, and ultimately to America, where he became associated with Joseph Green Cogswell's famous Round Hill School, which attempted to reproduce the educational system of ancient Greece. His appointment marked the beginning of German gymnastics in this country; he established the first public school gymnasium in 1825. From his stepfather Beck received the example of the strict, fair, and scrupulously honest gentleman that he became in his maturity. As professor of Latin at Harvard, Beck influenced others to study in Germany during the pre-Civil War period, was a famous teacher of Latin, composed texts for college students, and made learned contributions on a variety of subjects, including Statius, Horace, and Petronius. His scholarship was not the most original or important, but it was serviceable. His great contribution was clearly the encouragement of many young men of the generation of Goodwin, Child, and George M. Lane to study in Germany.

  • Sources:

    Adelaide M. Cole, BDAE, 105-6; DAB 2:113-4; PAAS 7 (1865-8) 107; Sandys, 456.

  • Author: Meyer Reinhold