The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVIII. Later National Literature, Part III.

XXV. Scholars

§ 20. James Hadley

The next generation turns somewhat decisively to the ideals of Hermann. James Hadley (1821–72), before he entered Yale as a junior in 1840, had “read as much Greek and Latin as Macaulay had read during his whole school and university life.” By 1851 he had become professor of the Greek Language and Literature at Yale. Meanwhile, with his friend William Dwight Whitney, he had been studying Sanskrit under Edward Elbridge Salisbury (1814–1901), then our only trained Oriental scholar, who had but two pupils in Sanskrit—Hadley and Whitney, duos sed leones. Whitney went abroad to continue his studies; Hadley married and settled in New Haven, where he remained until his death. When Hadley decided to become a philologist, Benjamin Peirce said that one of the finest mathematical minds of his generation was lost; in fact, Hadley’s work produces an irresistible impression of sheer all-round power. The day of narrow specialization had not come, and Hadley could write with equal authority a Greek Grammar (1860); a Brief History of the English Language; and Lectures on Roman Law (1873). The Greek Grammar, as revised by Frederic De Forest Allen in 1884, and the Brief History of the English Language, as revised by G. L. Kittredge, are still in use. The Lectures on Roman Law were said as recently as 1904 to be “in some respects the best elementary exposition of the system of Gaius and Justinian.” Hadley’s shorter papers were edited after his death by Whitney (Essays Philological and Critical, 1873). They discuss, among much else, Ernst Curtius’s theory that the migrating Ionians were only going back to their home land in Asia; the Byzantine Greek pronunciation of the tenth century; and the origin of the English possessive case. They review Ellis’s Early English Pronunciation, and wittily demolish Ludwig Ross’s Italiker und Gräken. They contain, finally, perhaps the ripest and best known of Hadley’s memoirs, that On the Nature and Theory of the Greek Accent. In the light of such work, Whitney’s opinion that Hadley was “America’s best and soundest philologist” is not a friendly exaggeration, but an expert’s cool appraisal.