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students have more than once appeared to have almost come up to the point of boxing their tutors.
If Harvard is ever to recover her supremacy, to resume her station in usefulness and in the affections of the people, it must be by a renovation of her management, and a change in some of the principles recognised by her. Every one is eager to acknowledge her past services. All American citizens are proud of the array of great men whom she has sent forth to serve and grace the country; but, like some other universities, she is falling behind the age. Her glory is declining, even in its external manifestations; and it must decline as long as the choicest youth of the community are no longer sent to study within her walls.
The politics of the managers of Harvard University are opposed to those of the great body of the American people. She is the aristocratic college of the United States. Her pride of antiquity, her vanity of pre-eminence and wealth, are likely to prevent her renovating her principles and management so as to suit the wants of the period; and she will probably receive a sufficient patronage from the aristocracy, for a considerable time to come, to encourage her in all her faults. She has a great name, and the education she affords is very expensive in comparison with all other colleges. The sons of the wealthy will therefore flock to her. The attaininents usually made within her walls are inferior to those achieved elsewhere, her professors (poorly salaried, when the expenses of living are considered) being accustomed to lecture and examine the students, and do nothing more. The indolent and the careless will therefore flock to her. But, meantime, more and more new colleges are rising up, and are filled as fast as they rise, whose principles and practices are better suited to the wants of the time. In them living is cheaper, and the professors are therefore richer with the same or smaller salaries; the sons of the yeomanry and mechanic classes resort to them; and, where it is the practice of the tutors to work with their pupils, as well as lecture to them, a proficiency is made which shames the attainments of the Harvard students. The middle and lower classes are usually neither Unitarian nor Episcopalian, but " orthodox," as their distinctive term is; and these, the strength and hope of the nation, avoid Harvard, and fill to overflowing the oldest orthodox colleges; and, when these will hold no more, establish new ones.
When I was at Boston the state of the University was a subject of great mourning among its friends. Attempts had been made to obtain the services of three gentlemen of some eminence as professors, but in vain. The salaries offered were insufficient to maintain the families of these gentlemen in comfort, in such a place as Cambridge; though, at that very time, the managers of the affairs of the institution were purchasing lands in Maine. The Moral Philosophy chair had been vacant for eight years. Two of the professors were at the time laid by in tedious illnesses; a third was absent on a long journey; and the young men of the senior class were left almost unemployed. The unpopularity of the president among the young men was extreme, and the disfavour was not confined to them. The students had, at different times within a few years, risen against the authorities; and the last disturbances, in 1834, had been of a very serious character. Every one was questioning what was to be done next, and anticipating a further vacating of chairs which it would be difficult to fill. I heard one merry lady advise that the professors should strike for higher wages, and thus force the council and supporters of the university into a thorough and serious consideration of its condition and prospects in relation to present and future times.
The salary of the president is above 2000 dollars. The salaries of the professors vary from 1500 dollars to 500; that is, from 3751. to 125l. Upon this sum they are expected to live like gentlemen, and to keep up the aristocratic character of the institution. I knew of one case where a jealousy was shown when a diligent professor, with a large family, made an attempt by a literary venture to increase his means. Yet Harvard College is in buildings, library, and apparatus, in its lands and money, richer than any other in the Union.
The number of undergraduates in the years 1833, 4 was two hundred and sixteen. They cannot live at Harvard for less than 200 dollars a year, independently of personal expenses. Seventy-five dollars must be contributed by each to the current expenses; fuel is dear; fifteen dollars are charged for lodging within the college walls, and eighty are paid for board by those who use their option of living in the college commons. The fact is, I believe, generally acknowledged, that the comparative expensiveness of living is a cause of the depression of Harvard in comparison with its
former standing among other colleges; but this leads to a supposition which does not to all appear a just one, that if the expenses of poor students could be defrayed by a public fund, to be raised for the purpose, the sons of the yeomanry would repair once more to Harvard. A friend of the institution writes, with regard to this plan,
"It would probably have the immediate effect of bringing back that, perhaps, most desirable class of students, the sons of families in the middling ranks in respect of property in town and country, who, we fear, were driven away in great numbers by the change in the amount of tuition fees in or about 1807. They mean to pay to the full extent that others around them do for whatever they have. This is what they have been used to doing. It is their habit; perhaps it is their point of honour; no matter which. But they are obliged strictly to consult economy. And the difference of an annual expense of twenty or thirty dollars, which their fathers will have to spare from the profits of a farm or a shop, and pinch themselves to furnish, is and ought to be, with such, a very serious consideration. It is, in fact, a consideration decisive, year by year, of the destination of numbers of youth to whom the country owes, for its own sake, the best advantages of education it can afford; of those who, in moral and intellectual structure, are the bone and sinew of the commonwealth, and on all accounts, personal and public, entitled to its best training."*
It may be doubted whether, if a gratis education to poor students were to be dispensed from Harvard to-morrow, it would rival in real respectability and proficiency the orthodox colleges which have already surpassed her. Her management and population are too aristocratic, her movement too indolent, to attract young men of that class; and young men of that class prefer paying for the benefits they receive; they prefer a good education, economically provided, so as to be within reach of their means, to an equally good education furnished to them at the cost of their pride of independence. The best friends of Harvard believe that it is not by additional contrivances that her prosperity can be restored; but by such a renovation of the whole scheme of her management as shall bring her once more into accordance with the wants of the majority, the spirit of the country and of the time.
* Christian Examiner for September, 1834.
The first commencement was held in August, 1642, only twenty years after the landing of the pilgrims. Mr. Peirce, the historian of the University, writes: "Upon this novel and auspicious occasion, the venerable fathers of the land, the governor, magistrates, and ministers from all parts, with others in great numbers, repaired to Cambridge, and attended with delight to refined displays of European learning, on a spot which but just before was the abode of savages. It was a day which on many accounts must have been singularly interesting." In attending the commencement of 1835 I felt that I was present at an antique ceremonial.
We had so arranged our movements as to arrive at Cambridge just in time for the celebration, which always takes place on the last Wednesday in August. We were the guests of the Natural Philosophy professor and his lady, and we arrived at their house before noon on Monday the 24th. Next to the hearty greeting we received came the pleasure of taking possession of my apartment, it looked so full of luxury. Besides the comfort of complete furniture of the English kind, and a pretty view from the windows, there was a table covered with books and flowers, and on it a programme of the engagements of the week. On looking at the books I found among them a History and some Reports of the University; so that it was my own fault if I plunged into the business of the week without knowing the whence and the wherefore of its observances.
The aspect of Cambridge is charming. The college buildings have no beauty to boast of, it is true; but the professors' houses, dropped around, each in its garden, give an aristocratic air to the place, which I saw in no other place of the size, and which has the grace of novelty. The greensward, the white palings, and the gravel-walks are all well kept, and nowhere is the New-England elm more flourishing. The noble old elm under which Washington first drew his sword spreads a wide shade over the ground.
After refreshing ourselves with lemonade we set out for the Botanic Garden, which is very prettily situated and well taken care of. Here I saw for the first time red water-lilies. None are so beautiful to my eyes as the white; but the red mix in well with these and the yellow in a large pond. There were some splendid South American plants; but the head gardener seemed more proud of his dahlias than of any other individual of his charge. From a small cottage on
the terrace at the upper end of the garden came forth Mr. Sparks, the editor of Washington's Correspondence. While engaged in his great work, he lives in this delightful spot. He took me into his study, and showed me his parchmentbound collection of Washington's papers, so fearful in amount that I almost wondered at the intrepidity of any editor who could undertake to go through them. When one looks at the shelf above shelf of thick folio volumes, it seems as if Washington could have done nothing but write all his life. I believe Mr. Sparks has now finished his arduous task, and given to the world the last of his twelve ample volumes. It is interesting to know that he received orders for the book from the remotest corners of the Union. friend writes to me, "Two hundred copies have recently gone to the Red River; and in Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama, the work is generously patronised. Can the dead letter of such a man's mind be scattered through the land without carrying with it something of his spirit?"
From the Botanic Garden we proceeded to the College, where we visited a student's room or two, the Museum, our host's lecture-room and apparatus, and the library.
The Harvard library was, in 1764, destroyed by fire (as everything in America seems to be, sooner or later). The immediate occasion of the disaster was the General Court having sat in the library, and (it being the month of January) had a large fire lighted there. One of the most munificent contributors to the lost library was the benevolent Thomas Hollis. He afterward assisted to repair the loss, writing, "I am preparing and going on with my mite to Harvard College, and lament the loss it has suffered exceedingly; but hope a public library will no more be turned into a council room." On this occasion there was a great mourning. The governor sent a message of condolence to the representatives; the newspapers bewailed it as a "ruinous loss;" and the mother-country and the colonies were stirred up to repair the mischief. Yet now, when the library consists of 40,000 volumes, some of them precious treasures, there seems as much carelessness as ever about fire. This is vehemently complained of on the spot, one honest reviewer declaring that he cannot sleep on windy nights for thinking of the risk arising from the library being within six feet of a building where thirty fires are burning, day and night, under the care of students only, who are re