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THE VISITORS' BOOK AT THE INN.
Only a shower ;-swift-darting thunder, rain ;
John PAGE HOPPS.
SPIRIT OF THE UNIVERSITIES.
[TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE,]
Sept. 23, 1878.
THE University, so far as its personnel is concerned, is scattered in September to the four winds. Towards the close of the month, indeed, there appear the faces of the handful of candidates for the Trinity Fellowship-faces which in general betray less than might have been expected the severe and anxious study required in preparation for the examination. To read upon the college notice board the list of dissertation subjects is almost enough to induce a headache. A melancholy event has lately added one to the number of fellowships vacant this autumn, and has cast a shadow over Trinity. A very brilliant scholar, at a time of life when the mind is perhaps in its fullest vigour, and a man's power of enjoyment of living at its keenest, was suddenly snatched away by death a few weeks since, whilst bathing in Lake Como.
Before leaving Cambridge at the end of August (for I, like other people, am away just now), I was gratified to find that our honoured Vice-Master was making satisfactory progress towards recovery from the effects of a paralytic stroke, which gave all his friends considerable concern some months ago. His presence is much missed in Hall, where he is one of the most genial of presidents and most courteous of hosts.
The number of guests, by the way, who are entertained in the course of the year at the high table is generally urged as a reason against making one of the most needed of minor reforms in the College institutions. Why, it has again and again been asked of late, should our fellows deem it necessary to dine nightly at the rate of about seven shillings per head ? Guests are as likely to run away with tales of our extravagance and waste of educational endowments, as to be pleased with their good dinner; and the present state of things is not dignified, but rather very undignified.
A reform of much more importance, and one relating to the whole University and to the town, is the radical alteration of what has been called our “ great and glorious credit system,” Tradesmen have to wait many months for payment of their bills, and unlucky “ coaches” are in the same predicament. The latter are perhaps the more to be pitied, for they have to live at great expense, and are unable to raise their fees above a certain conventional sum per term; whereas the tradesmen can, and most certainly do, avenge themselves upon the academical public by putting an enormous profit on their wares. The College tutors, after receiving money from their pupils for payment of the various bills and fees, allow it to lie at interest at their bankers' for half a year or longer. Their conduct in this matter has the sanction of long-standing custom, but is none the less vicious in principle ; and one wonders that so very few of them, placed as they are in a position not only very lucrative but also of great responsibility so far as influence and example are concerned, adopt a more considerate and better course.
Harvard UNIVERSITY-the largest and most important educational institution in the United States—was founded in 1636 upon a grant of money by the General Court of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay. In 1638 a munificent donation was made to it by the Rev. John Harvard, of Charlestown, a graduate of Cambridge, England, and in gratitude the young college was named after him.
It is situated in the small town of Cambridge which adjoins the city of Boston, in the eastern part of the State of Massachusetts. Street cars --tramways-pass every five minutes between Boston and Cambridge, and the distance of three miles and a half is accomplished regularly in thirty minutes. The proximity of the University to a large and rich city is attended by results both good and bad. The students have many opportunities for literary and musical culture, but at the same time the numerous theatres--one of which is the largest in America and other more questionable places of amusement, offer temptations which make sad raids upon the time of some of the richer students.
The composition of our American Universities is so different from that of the English ones that it may be interesting to enter into some detail. The University buildings are all with a few exceptions to be afterwards named-within a circumscribed area commonly called the “college grounds." In them are the dormitories, the students' rooms, recitation halls, professional school buildings, library, chapels and gymnasium. These buildings are mostly the gifts of friends of Harvard, often alumni, and, having been erected between 1700 and the present time, show different styles of architecture and different materials of construction. New ones are being added almost every year, so that the University is gradually spreading itself beyond the original grounds. Most of the land in Cambridge is its property.
A student's suite of rooms consists generally of a bedroom and study, or, if intended for two students, two bedrooms and a larger study. The following is a list of the dormitories with the number of suites they respectively contain, with the costs of some of them: Matthew's Hall, Gothic (120,000 dollars), sixty suites; Thayer Hall (115,000 dollars), sixty-eight suites; Holworthy Hall (about 10,000 dollars), twenty-four double suites; Weld Hall, Elizabethan, fifty-four suites ; Gray's Hall, fifty-two suites ; Stoughton Hall (24,000 dollars), thirty-two rooms; Hollis Hall, thirty-two rooms. All these buildings stand within the college quadrangle, familiarly called “the yard.” There are also two large dormitories outside the quadrangle, and besides these, several built as investments by private individuals, who rival one another in their attempts to make the rooms attractive to the students. In Beck Hall and Felton Block—the two most elegant of these—the suites consist of a large study, one or two bedrooms, clothes closet, bath room, &c., heated by steam, fitted up luxuriously, and connected with the janitor of the building by electric bell and speaking tube. These are the homes of the very wealthy students, of whom we have a great number.
Gore Hall, a fine Gothic building of white granite, was built in 1841, and enlarged in 1877 at a total cost of 160,000 dollars. It is the repository of the college library, and contains over 170,000 volumes, the third largest collection of books in America. The Boston Public Library stands first; then the Library of Congress at Washington; then our own library. It has just come under the management of Mr. Justice Winsor, for many years the celebrated librarian of the Boston Public Library.
University Hall is a large white marble building, containing examination and recitation rooms, and the offices of the president and dean. Appleton Chapel is the college chapel where prayers are held in the mornings, and services by the Divinity Professors on Sunday. We have rather a small gymnasium, but a very large and complete one is to be finished before Christmas.
But by far the largest and handsomest college building in America is the Memorial Hall, built by subscriptions from the alumni in memory of the sons of Harvard who fell in the war for the defence of the Union. It is a large and imposing building, of brick and buff sandstone, 310 by 115 feet, with the longer axis running east and west. It contains a large hall, where the students take their meals, capable of accommodating more than a thousand persons at the tables. It is magnificently decorated inside, and contains the portraits and busts belonging to the University. At the west end is a handsome memorial window, 25 by 30 feet.
At the other end of Memorial Hall is Sanders Theatre, a building of classical form, accommodating 1500 persons, in which are held all the public exercises, orations, &c., of the college. Between the dining hall and Sanders Theatre is the vestibule, which is really we memorial part of the building. The pavement is of marble, and the vaulting, fifty-eight feet above, is of brown ash. The sides, to a height of eighteen feet, are covered with a black walnut screen, in which are inlaid large white marble tablets, each of which bears in the centre the name, class, and profession of the student, and the name and date of the battle in which he fell. Memorial Hall is easily recognised from a long distance by its tower, 200 feet high and about 35 feet square.
Besides the above buildings there are two large museums, the Divinity School, the Medical School, the Law School, the Scientific School, the Observatory, and the Botanical Garden.
The above is a brief, and of course incomplete, description of the exterior of Harvard. I will now endeavour to explain its interior regulations and arrangements.
In the Harvard Catalogue there is the following official statement of the composition of the University: “Harvard University comprehends the following departments : Harvard College, the Divinity School, the Law School, the Medical School, the Dental School, the Lawrence Scientific School, the Bussey (Agricultural) Institution, the Observatory, the Botanic Garden and Herbarium, the Museum of Comparative Zoology, and the Library. The Peabody Museum of American Archæology and Ethnology is a constituent part of the University, but its relations to it are affected by certain peculiar provisions."
It will be seen from the above list that Harvard College is entirely distinct from Harvard University, that it is merely one of its parts. The College gives the degree of B.A., or rather A.B., as it is always written thus in the States. The various professional schools give degrees of Bachelor or Doctor in their respective studies.
The College or Academic Course is of four years, and aims at giving the student a thorough general education, with, during the last two years, a leaning towards the profession which he is to adopt. Thus a college student preparing for a medical career would choose such studies as Chemistry and Botany. One studying for the ministry, on the other hand, might take Hebrew. This choosing of studies brings one to the elective system, which is the great glory of Harvard. In his first year a student is termed a Freshman; in his second, a Sophomore; in his third, a Junior ; in his fourth, a Senior. To explain the elective system of studies I will quote a few sentences from the Harvard Catalogue. “The course of study to be pursued by a candidate for the Bachelor's degree is made up in part of studies which are prescribed, and pursued by all students alike, and in part of studies selected by the student himself from the various courses of instruction given by the College. The prescribed studies occupy the whole of the Freshman year and about one-third of the Sophomore and Junior years. In the Senior year only certain written exercises are prescribed.” “In addition to the prescribed studies each Sophomore is required to pursue courses, chosen by himself from the elective studies, amounting to ten exercises a week for the year; each Junior, courses amounting to twelve exercises a week; and each Senior, courses amounting to twelve exercises a week." “In choosing his electives the student must satisfy his instructors that he is qualified by his previous training to pursue those which he selects. With this limitation all the courses given in the College are open to him in making his choice; but he is strongly recommended to make his choice with great care, under the best advice, and in such a manner that his elective courses from first to last may form a rationally connected whole.”
The foregoing quotations will explain to you our elective system. The idea is that there are certain studies which all must know, such as Greek, Latin, rhetoric, French or German, philosophy, &c., and, these being successfully studied, the student is supposed to know his own business best, and to be man enough to select from a hundred elective courses of study, including Fine Arts (3), Music (4), Romance, Philology, Italian (3), Spanish (3), Sanskrit (2), and other advanced studies, besides many courses in each of such studies, as Greek (11), Latin (11), English (4), French (4), German (4), Mathematics (10), Philosophy (6), History (9), Physics (6), Chemistry (7), and Natural History (10), those which will be of most service to him in his future life. The figures in brackets give the number of courses in each subject.
The academic student is examined semi-annually and annually, and the successful termination of his four years' course of study entitles him to the degree of Bachelor of Arts. The University confers the following degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Divinity, Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Science, Civil Engineer, Doctor of Dental Medicine, Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Science, Master of Arts, and Mining Engineer.
Before entering one of the professional schools, the student is supposed to have the degree of A.B. or an equivalent training ; if he has not the degree he is examined as to his fitness to pursue the studies in the school. A successful course of two or three years, as the case may