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Memorial

Alfred Henry Lloyd
The Michigan Alumnus 254


Alfred Henry Lloyd, 1864-1927


(Memorial Presented to the University Senate by a Committee Composed of Professors R. M. Wenley,
 Chairman, Arthur Lyon Cross, and DeWitt H. Parker.)


A Life devoted to philosophical reflection, 
 and therefore active mainly in transfer of 
ideas to pupils by word of mouth or to a 
larger public by the printed page, is little likely to 
furnish many external details calculated to throw
 light upon the real person. Inevitably, then, the 
outward career of Alfred Henry Lloyd, if summar
ized, would be unstirring enough. The incidents 
acquire significance only when touched to those
 larger human issues inseparable from development 
of character and of intellectual thrust. 


The leal colleague whom we lament so genuine
ly was born, with his twin brother, Arthur, on Jan
uary 3, 1864, in Montclair, New Jersey, whither his father, Henry Huggins Lloyd, and his mother, Anna Badger, had migrated from their New England home at Blandford, Massachusetts, under the shadow of the Berkshire Hills. Eager for education, the father forsook the land and, at sacrifice of physical strength, achieved the training then necessary for qualification as a physician. This work proving too strenuous, he joined a firm who published maps. To no purpose, for tubercular tendencies rendered him a prey to pneumonia at the early age of thirty-
eight. When he died, in 1868, the widow was left with four little boys and a fifth unborn. Fortunately, Mr. Daniel Badger, the maternal grandfather, happened to be a man of large means for those days, and the fatherless family were spared the addition of penury to bereavement. Sad to tell, this phase did not last. As contractor for the metal framework of the Grand Central Station, New York City, Mr. Badger lost half his fortune while, shortly before his death, in 1874, the mischances of associates, whose paper he had backed, made the ruin complete. Thereafter, from the time when Alfred was ten years old, a grim struggle lay ahead of the delicate mother and her young children, the more grievous that they had been immune from financial anxiety hitherto. 


Some two years later, Mrs. Lloyd sent the twins 
to her brother-in-law, Mr. Myrom Lloyd, then prin
cipal of a school in Westfield, Massachusetts. 
 "High thinking and low living," full chiefly of veritable New England thrift, hardness and chores, 
 were the order of the day here. There can be little 
if any doubt that Alfred's character was hammered 
to permanent temper by these conditions. It took 
on or brought forth qualities, which persisted re
markably, as we shall see. About 1877 or 1878, 
Mrs. Lloyd removed from Montclair to Andover, 
 Massachusetts, where living was less expensive. 
 Records of the Andover years fail us; but we know that the twins attended the High School, find that they were pupils at St. Johnsbury Academy during
 1881 and 1882. The St. Johnsbury outlay attests 
the stern discipline of harsh circumstances. It
 was exiguous in the extreme—$356.13 apiece for the 
entire two years! Small wonder that Alfred could
 not afford to visit his mother during Christmas va
cation; rather he earned something by service on
 the school premises—not eating his soul out, but
 annealing it. 


Meanwhile the prospect of college began to 
loom up. The lad had been entertaining 
thoughts of the ministry of the Congregational
 Church, in which he was born and bred. A prom
inent and well-to-do co-religionist at St. Johnsbury, 
 Fairbanks by name, offered to see him through 
Dartmouth College, on the understanding that he
 would pledge himself to adopt this ministry. But
 an older brother, Herbert, was earning his war 
through Harvard College and, drawn to this institution, Alfred proposed to emulate his example. 
 Moreover, he felt that should he accept Mr. Fair
banks' benefaction, he would be morally bound to 
become a preacher. Despite the urgent temptation, 
 he declined to commit himself; here already we get
 a taste of the quality which we at Michigan came 
to know so well, and to value so highly, because
 we could rely upon it with entire confidence. Ac
cordingly, availing himself of Mr. Fairbanks' good
 offices to the modest extent of a loan of $100, Al
fred betook himself to Harvard College in 1882.


It is noteworthy that, during the four years of 
the college course, he drew upon family funds the 
incredibly small sum of $650. For the rest, his
 modest expenses were earned, tutoring and scholarships being the main sources of revenue. Thus, 
 there was no wastage upon irrelevant trivialities 
and, an explicit end being in view, dumb brooding
 over bad luck or dismal privation never provoked 
useless resentment. For, monetary stringency de
spite, the disposition distinctive of the mature man 
appears to have been discovered by his undergradu
ate associates, who elected him President of the
 Y.M.C.A. During his incumbency a bitter dispute 
arose about the admission of Unitarians. In the 
issue Lloyd resigned, and it is well to mark, not
 merely his breadth of vision, but also that the uncharitableness of some who called themselves Christ
ians had due effect in turning him from the min
istry. With him, as with other fine, sensitive na
tures, professionalism in religion acted as a deter
rent. Probably he expected as much from the As
sociation as he asked from himself, forgetful that 
a society cannot keep the level practicable for a few
 select spirits. Preoccupation with ecclesiastical 
matters did not debar other activities. Lloyd was 
a member of the "Signet" and, after the usual ap
prenticeship, Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Crim
son. As fit crown to a valiant undergraduatehood, 
he took his A. B. degree summa cum laude. 


On graduation he sought and obtained a post 
at Phillips-Andover Academy. With characteristic 
humour, he always enjoyed telling that, while his 
competence lay in mathematics and Greek, he found 
himself expected to 
teach English, Latin, 
history, botany, physical
 geography, physiography, and arithmetic. 
 This scholastic venture 
lasted but one year. 


In the autumn of 1887 
he entered the Harvard Graduate School, 
 specializing in philos
ophy. Two years later 
he gained the distinction of appointment to 
the Walker Fellowship, 
 and spent his "travel-
years" at the Univer
sities of Gottingen, Ber
lin, and Heidelberg, 
 forming a special at
tachment for the last. 
 Returning to the United
 States in the spring of
 1891, he was called to
 the Michigan staff by
 Professor John Dewey, 
 and came into residence 
at Ann Arbor the follow
ing autumn. He married
 Miss Margaret L. Crocker, of Springfield, Massa
chusetts, late in 1892.

After Professor Dewey's
 migration to Chicago, Dr. Lloyd acted as head of 
the Philosophical Department for two years, hold
ing an Assistant Professorship till 1899, when he
 was advanced to Associate rank. He received a full
 Professorship in 1906. His kindly yet discreet 
solution of troublesome questions as Chairman of 
the Committee on Student Affairs marked him for
 wider responsibilities, and President Hutchins ap
pointed him Dean of the Graduate School in 1915. 
Here again his sterling qualities told their tale, so
 much so that, on President Burton's death in February 1925, the Regents asked him to accept the
 Acting Presidency of the University. This choice
 elicited cordial approval on every side. His wise 
policy throughout that trying period is too fresh 
in memory to require comment. Dr. Lloyd served
 as President of the Michigan Alpha in Phi Beta
 Kappa for the first two years of its existence (1907-
09); as President of the Harvard Club of Michigan 
in 1909-10; of our own Research Club in 1914-15; 
 
of the Western Division of the American Philosoph
ical Association in 1915-16. At the time of his death 
he was Secretary of the Association of American
 Universities. He received the honorary degree of 
LL.D. from the University of California in 1924. His sudden death last May made us aware of a 
grievous blank and, the closer we were to the man, 
the profounder our sense of loss. 


Few, alas, merit and
 arouse such sorrow, 
 fewer receive the tribute 
spontaneously from all
 sorts and conditions of 
men. These rarer souls
 commend themselves be
cause they have the 
power to keep their
 heads and tempers be tide what may. With
 customary intuition, 
 Carlyle has found words
 to describe their appeal. 
 "A loving heart is the 
beginning of all knowl
edge. This it is that 
opens the whole mind, 
 quickens every faculty of 
the intellect to do its fit
 work, that of knowing."
 As a rule, one does not
 associate this tempera
ment with that typical
s on of New England, the
 Puritan. But remember 
his yoke-fellow, the Pil
grim. Listen to the late
 Senator Hoar, who 
knew his kin right well: 


The Puritan differs from the Pilgrim as the 
Hebrew prophet from Saint John. Abraham, 
 ready to sacrifice Isaac at the command of God; 
 Jeremiah, uttering his terrible prophecy of the
 downfall of Judaea; Brutus, condemning his son
 to death: Brutus, slaying his friend for the lib
erty of Rome; Aristides, going into exile, are his 
spiritual progenitors, as Stonewall Jackson was 
of his spiritual kindred. You will find him where-
ever men are sacrificing life or the delights of life
 on the altar of Duty. But the Pilgrim is of a
 gentler and lovelier nature. He, too, if Duty or
 Honour call, is ready for the sacrifice. But his
 weapon is love and not hate. His spirit is the
 spirit of John, the beloved Disciple, the spirit of 
Grace, Mercy, and Peace. His memory is as sweet 
and fragrant as the perfume of the little flower
 which gave its name to the ship which brought 
him over. 


Puritan discipline, the result of financial dis
aster and attendant circumstances, never effaced 
the Pilgrim strain in Lloyd. We infer this from
 the manner in which he won upon his contempo
raries at school and college—exacting judges. We 
know it from his Note Books, written during the 
German sojourn. The following passage, for ex-
ample, strikes the note that rang from his character
 down the Michigan years. "I had rather have it
 said of me, 'He is a Christian,' than be able to say
 of myself, 'I am a Christian.' The boast would only 
refute itself. But the praise would mean more than 
creed . . . What is the good? What is the true? 
 What is the beautiful? What is the real? For 
each question the same answer: Life with hope and 
effort, or Love with charity and sacrifice." No
 doubt, he was dominated by strict moralism at this
 early stage. Untoward fortune wrung from him 
the bitter-sweet exclamation—"I cannot too strong
ly reproach myself for selfishness, and I do it the
 more because I have known so well how to be un
selfish." Keeping a firm hand upon a cheerful
 heart, he was building a soul which he could possess 
in patience. He records: "Worry is not helpful. Patience, perseverance, hope, trust—these are the
 right attitudes for all time of trouble." The youth 
is already wise at twenty-six; wise, however, far 
more as the result of virtuous balance than of prudential reason. Having learned how to respect self, 
 he could afford to respect others. His "favorites—
Faithfulness, Patience, and Peace"—taking him unawares, he walked with his fellows a fragrant, un
blemished spirit. His conscientiousness, equal to
 larger and lesser affairs alike, had no trace of the 
fussy, being steadfast in search after justice. 


His philosophy, which this is not the occasion, 
 even could we command the mood, to estimate, 
 was redolent of the man. He says: "Philosophy, 
 however indifferent, however matter of fact, leads 
to an ought . . . Thus, when we speak of philos
ophy, we refer rather to an activity behind the 
reality of the investigation or theory than to the
 investigation or theory itself ... It comes to the
 reader or hearer like a picture, which at first may
 seem meaningless, but in the end gets a meaning
 from the personal demands of the observer." Avow
als of the kind presage his affiliations later. Take
 as an example his admiration for Spinoza, upon 
whom he became an authority. "No one felt this
 ought more strongly than Spinoza, but Spinoza 
made a fact, a present reality of it, instead of a
 process to an attainment . . . This, though as near
ly true for him as it ever was probably for any 
man, is far from true for most of us ... To do a 
thing well we must first begin by doing it poorly. "
In maturity, when he had strung his bow and was 
not merely trying to bend it, so to speak, he could
 afford to blend humour with gravity; indeed this
 grew more and more usual with him. Conscience, 
 though still carrying "some of the freightage known 
to men," had ceased to overweigh him. The quota
tion hints that we are reminded of George Mer
edith's Comic Spirit. But Lloyd did not descry "a
 peep-show and a Punch's at the corner of every 
street." His humour sported with the paradoxes
 besetting human thought rather than with the eccentricities that almost make men contortionists. 
 Blest with pietas, he contemplated the human scene
 in mild surprise, desirous to see it whole. Paradox
lent him opportunity for justice, because it deployed 
both sides of a case. Moreover, he sought his clues
 in men more than in Nature, and this genial choice
 led to elastic vision at last. In short, the play of
 his humour, suffused with friendliness as it ever
 was, came to rid paradox, not of alienation indeed, 
 but of inimical or cold irony. He saw that the
 comedy of human thought ended in no hocus-pocus; 
 on the contrary, it presaged a continuous effort
 after complete satisfaction, whereof his fellows
 were the sole hopeful instruments, even when they 
strode small or foolish parts on the huge stage of 
a universal drama. 


Revealing the high humour of it all, he says: 
"In the real world there can be but one life and 
one death, and we individuals, whatever our cen
tury, divide the labour of both . . . Hence great men make history, but they make it only because
 they are alive in it before their birth and survive 
in it, in its doing and in its thinking, after they
 die." Do not forget that the village Hampdens, the 
mute inglorious Miltons, and the Cromwells guilt
less of their countries' blood, participate also. 
 What paradox, but what truth! What equable
 judgment all round! 


Further, and most characteristically, Lloyd
 realized that human ignorance prostrates itself 
before the blind god, Chance. And he smiled, be
cause he knew that the ignorance was no wise hope
less; it might well be surmounted were folk able
 to divine that the rules of the game of life become
 arbitrary only when the players mistake their own
 opinions for inviolable principles. Thus, with per
fect guilelessness, he could banter and, pity breth
ren who had contrived to persuade themselves that
 their obvious stupidities count for cardinal vir
tues. Able to smile, he escaped a certain habit of 
didacticism, often the sin of those whom morals
 entice to the exclusion of other aspects of exper
ience. 


Never blown about by passing winds of doc
trine, he attached himself to no school, preferring to 
keep his ethical outlook free from the shackles of a 
system. True to the American temper, he would be 
the architect of his own philosophical fortune. You
 must not expect to encounter his name in myopic 
primers replete with lists of partisans adept in de
tection of all fallacies save their own. Running
 straight to his Yankee heritage, he is not apt to 
"crook the pregnant hinges of the knee" to "establish reputations." Nevertheless, for this very rea
son, he remains an optimist ready, nay, anxious, to
 place faith in the nature of the common man and
 its capacity for progress, if only it will tie to the 
plain verities proven in conduct. Moreover, unlike
 some with whom he might be classed in tidy man
uals, he never permitted his masterful grip on moral
 order to diminish respect for learning or for re
ligion. Hence, the five books and five dozen articles 
bearing his signature hint that he may have complicity in the new era lying beyond contemporary 
polemics. Be this as it may, his disposition in
clined him to seek and to find truth wherever gen
uine insight prevailed, and therefore to minimize
 differences in the hope of cooperative advance based
 on conciliation. 


We scarce dare trust ourselves to attempt the
 more intimate characterization which these
 qualities as a man and a thinker invite. The truth 
is, Lloyd was the exceptional person who stands in 
no need of idealization, who, on this account, al
most escapes verbal description. His placid toler
ance caused familiars to wonder. Indeed, there
 were times when they inclined to judge it weakness; 
 but, in the long run, it always came full circle, jus
tified by the event. He set himself to detect the
 strain of good in the excitable or intrusive busy-
body, in the sonorous official, in the pettifogging 
knave, even in the plain liar of the workaday world. Similarly, he could suffer gladly, if with a wry face
 sometimes, the fools of the learned or would be
 learned world—the querulous precisian, the dumb
 victim of trifling "research," the pontificating ass, 
 even the presumptuous egotist. They struck him as
 varieties of self-deception. Brushing aside their 
peculiarities, limitations, nay, vices, he preferred 
to divine the spark of humanity they had, thinking 
of them humanely. This selflessness tied his friends
 to him with bands stronger than steel; so much so
 that they fear, however wistfully and sadly, they
 can scarce expect to look upon his like again.