Matthew Arnold lectured on Emerson. Recalling his early times at Oxford—“whispering from her towers the last enchantment of the Middle Age”—he spoke of his reading Emerson.  “To us at Oxford Emerson was but a voice speaking from three thousand miles away.  But so well he spoke, that from that time forth Boston Bay and Concord were names invested to my ear with a sentiment akin to that which invests for the names of Oxford and or Weimar….”

But, he told his audience, on later, serious reflection, “…in truth, one of the legitimate poets, Emerson, in my opinion, is not.”  In fact Emerson, whose poetry lacked “directness, completeness, energy,” was "neither a great poet nor a man of letters."

Reviewing Arnold’s lecture, The Vassar Miscellany scolded him for his “academic narrowness,” adding "We of to-day...have no desire to be led back into medievalism even by such cultured and classic teachers as Matthew Arnold."

A senior who dangled a toy mouse on a string over Arnold’s head as he spoke was reportedly expelled from the college.