North American Scholar

SHORT, Charles Lancaster

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1821-05-28
  • Born City: Haverhill
  • Born State/Country: MA
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1886-12-24
  • Death City: New York
  • Death State/Country: NY
  • Married: Anne Jean Lyman, 1849.
  • Education:

    A.B. Harvard, 1846; A.M. (hon.), 1847; LL.D. Kenyon, 1868.

  • Professional Experience:

    Asst. mstr., Phillips Acad. (Andover, MA), 1847; headmaster Roxbury Lat. Sch., 1848-53; master of own school (Philadelphia), 1853-63; pres. & prof, mental & moral philos. Kenyon Coll., 1863-7; prof. Lat. Columbia Coll., 1867-86; sec. Am. Comm. on Rev. New Testament, 1881.

  • Publications:

    Smitz & Zumpt, Advanced Latin Exercises, rev. Short (Philadelphia, 1854); Augustus Mitchel, Ancient Geography, Classical and Sacred, rev. Short (Philadelphia, 1860); "The Order of Words in Attic-Greek Prose," prefixed to C. D. Yonge's An English-Greek Lexicon (1870) i-cxv; co-editor (mostly for the letter A) of Harper's Latin Dictionary (New York, 1879), completed by Charlton Thomas Lewis; "The New Revision of King James' Revision of the New Testament," AJP 2 (1881) 148-80; 3 (1882) 139-69; 4(1883) 253-82; 5 (1884) 417-53; 7 (1886) 283-309; "Note," Oriental Church Magazine 1 (Dec. 1879) 350.

  • Notes:

    One of the breed of older classicists who were broadly based humanists rather than specialists, Short's fame was that of a teacher. Even as a boy, his love of exact learning was so intense that when dissatisfied with the translation of one of his teachers at Phillips Academy, Andover, MA, he walked 20 miles to Cambridge to find the correct translation in the Harvard library. He told his son, "I used to open my eyes very early in the morning, waiting impatiently for daylight, that I might rise and be at my books." At Harvard he found E. A. Sophocles a congenial teacher and model. After 15 years of association with preparatory schools, he was elected president of Kenyon College, where he began a library, recruited students, and built the faculty. But his dynamism made him enemies and in 1867 he resigned to succeed Henry Drisler as professor of Latin at Columbia College, where he spent the rest of his career. He also took over from Drisler the editing of Harper's Latin Dictionary. He had elaborate plans to revise the dictionary in three years, but he was unable to and in 1874 the job was given to C. T. Lewis. Short had only reached the letter "D." Of his work on "A," "B," and "C," Harper's lost "B" and "C," which had to be redone by Lewis. For 13 years of work on the dictionary, Short received $847.85. He also served as member of the American Committee on the Revision of the English Authorized Version of the Bible. Nicholas Murray Butler called him "a pedant if ever there was one," but others, like Brander Matthews and Harry Thurston Peck, valued him a man of "real learning" and W. W. Goodwin said that his "Order of Words in Attic-Greek Prose" "does great honor to American Scholarship."

  • Sources:

    George Harvey Genzmer, DAB 17:126-7; NatCAB 7:7; Charles L. Short, Memoir of the Life of Charles Short, M.A., LL.D. (Newcastle, ME, 1892), with bibliography, 21-8; Francis J. Sypher, Jr., "A History of Harper's Latin Dictionary," Harvard Library Bulletin 29 (1972) 349-66; WhAmHS 553; Nicholas Murray Butler, Across the Busy Years (new York, 1939) 66.

  • Author: Meyer Reinhold