North American Scholar

LANE, George Martin

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1823-12-24
  • Born City: Charlestown
  • Born State/Country: MA
  • Parents: Martin & Lucretia Swan L.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1897-06-30
  • Death City: Cambridge
  • Death State/Country: MA
  • Married: Frances E. Gardiner, 1857; Mrs. Fanny Clark, 1878.
  • Education:

    A.B. Harvard, 1846; LL.D., 1894; Ph.D. Göttingen, 1851.

  • Professional Experience:

    Instr. Lat. Harvard, 1846-7; prof., 1851-69; Pope prof. Lat., 1869-94.

  • Dissertation:

    "Smyrnaeorum res gestae et antiquitates" (Göttingen, 1851).

  • Publications:

    Latin Pronunciation (Cambridge, 1871); "Notes on Quintilian," HSCP 1 (1890) 89-92; Latin Grammar for Schools and Colleges (New York, 1898, 1903).

  • Notes:

    George Martin Lane, a Harvard classmate of William Francis Child and Charles Eliot Norton, was a superb teacher of undergraduates and graduate students at Harvard. He succeeded Charles Beck in 1851 and taught at the upper levels even as a young man. He wrote little. He worked on Lewis and Short's Latin Dictionary, and his treatise on the pronunciation of Latin served to eliminate the anglicized pronunciation of Latin in America. Lane's Latin Grammar, highly praised by his Göttingen classmate and Bonn roommate Gildersleeve, is a posthumous work, completed by Morris Hicky Morgan. A man of gentle charm, he was widely known for his sense of humor and was the author, according to Samuel Eliot Morison, of the popular Cambridge rhyme "Lone Fishball," later expanded by his colleague Child into an Italian opera, "II Pesceballo." Another colleague, Goodwin, said of him, "Scrupulous accuracy, without affectation or pedantry, was, indeed, the great lesson of Lane's literary life, which he taught in every act both in and out of his professor's chair. His sparkling wit and his humorous view, even of the commonest things, made him a delightful social companion; and his unfailing kindness of heart endeared him to his large circle of friends, especially to those who had known sorrow and trouble." For five years he headed a Latin department of two persons; when he resigned in 1894, there were eight. After his death President Eliot said, "Professor Lane gave perfect service and was one of the most useful teachers in the college."

  • Sources:

    AJP 19 (1898) 344; W. W. Goodwin, Publ. Col. Soc. Mass. 6 (1900) 97-105; C. T. Lewis, AJP 18 (1897) 371-2; M. H. Morgan, HSCP 9 (1898) 1-12; "Posthumous Papers," ibid., 13-26; M. H. Morgan, Nation, 1671 (8 July 1897) 28; Herbert Weir Smyth, DAB 10:573-4; WhAmHS 372.

  • Author: Meyer Reinhold