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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
be, in a professional school, the examinations being passed and the dissertations all approved, entitles to the degree given by that school.
The degree of M.A. implies two degrees. For instance, an A.B. and B.D. may try for his M.A. after one year's, extra study at the University.
The degrees of D.D. and LL.D. are honorary.
In 1876-77 the whole number of Instructors at Harvard was 124; of students, 1370.
We have students both very rich and very poor ; it is the Harvard boast that no good scholar is ever obliged to leave college for lack of means. For the indigent students there are many funds to support them through college, and a man is not sociably disparaged because he is poor. Many a fellow has come from the plough or the workshop and taken the highest honours Harvard had to give. And we are proud of it! I have no doubt this will call forth a sneer from some of the aristocrats of the English Universities ; but we have many aristocrats at Harvard, and still we do not forget that we are all men, and therefore we prefer the hearty goodwill of real manhood to any pharisaism. Of course I do not mean to imply that a rich and cultivated young fellow would probably choose for his companion a poverty-stricken and rustic lad ; but, if the latter be only a gentleman by instinct and a diligent scholar, the former will not make any assumption of inherent superiority.
At present we are much exercised over the question of Greek and Latin entrance examinations. Up to the present time portions of Greek and Latin authors have been assigned for examination, but in the future a fairly proficient general knowledge of the two languages will be required, and the candidate will not know in what author he is to be examined till he sees the question paper before him. This is a long step in the direction of anti-cram.
A condensation of our entrance examination paper—the matriculation examination may be surprising to some of your readers : Latin Grammar, composition and translation at sight; large portions of Cæsar, Sallust, Ovid, Cicero, and Virgil ; Greek Grammar and Composition ; large portions of the Anabasis and the Iliad, and a portion of Herodotus ; Arithmetic, Algebra, Plain Geometry, Ancient History and Geography, Modern and Physical Geography, English Composition, French or German, Physical Science. Not a selection from these subjects, but all of them must be taken up to enter college. There is also a second list of subjects, containing less of classics and more of mathematics. The matriculation examination may be passed in halves, one half being reserved until the year following the first.
The cost of living at Harvard varies with the purse of the individual. I suppose the minimum would be about 300 dollars, and the maximum 3000 dollars.
The lectures and recitations take place chiefly before 3 p.m., so that in the afternoon the students are left free. The afternoon is generally spent in base ball, although cricket, lawn tennis, and other games have a few devotees. Riding is in vogue with those who can afford it.
Prayers are at 7.45 each morning, so that between 9.0--the hour of the first lecture and 3.0 p.m. much work may be done.
A large bell calls to prayers and lectures. Many are the attempts that have been made to prevent the awful regularity of its tolling. It has been nailed up in the belfry, filled with plaster of Paris, its tongue
has been stolen ; but old Jones, who has rung it for forty years, has very seldom been outwitted.
There are numerous societies among the students, although really secret societies have ceased at Harvard. The Base-ball Association, the Boat Club, the Porcelain Club, the Hasty Pudding Club, the II. H., the Q. B. K., the Signet, the Glee Club, the Pierian Sodality, and the Institute of 1770 are some of these. Some of them are very wealthy, and have buildings of their own; the others have suites of rooms. They are either social, literary, or both. The Pierian is the college musical society.
The following well-known men are Professors at Harvard : Frederick Henry Hedge, D.D., Rev. A. P. Peabody, D.D., O. W. Holmes, M.D., Benjamin Pierce, LL.D., the mathematician, E. A. Sophocles, James Russell Lowell, F. J. Child, the English scholar, and C. C. Everett and Francis Bowen, well known in philosophical circles.
A few of the celebrated graduates of Harvard are Chas. Sumner, Edward Everett, Chas. Ticknor, O. W. Holmes, Edward E. Hale, W. H. Prescott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, H. D. Thoreau, Theodore Parker.
Most of the statistics in this letter are drawn from the catalogue of 1867-77, as, away in the long vacation, I did not have this year's catalogue with me.
I must close here this already too long letter, and perhaps at some future time will write you about the student life and habits, which are much more amusing subjects, and perhaps at the same time more truly characteristic of the spirit of our Alma Mater.
UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA.
An amusing paragraph, purporting to be the reply of Mr. Thomas Carlyle to the announcement of Harvard University that it had conferred upon him the degree of LL.D., went a good many months ago the round of the American newspaper press. The spirit of this pseudo-reply was one of extreme indignation at the audacity exhibited by the unknown institution somewhere down in Arkansas in presuming to bring up the rearguard of the hobbling files of degree men with the writer's name. The imitation of the distinguished gentleman's peculiar style was extremely clever; and it was not for a long time that the public perceived it to be a hoax. That the knowledge of educated Englishmen anent American institutions of learning is so limited as to leave it a matter of doubt with them whether Harvard is down in Arkansas or not, is of course preposterous; but concerning many of these seats of learning whose names are famous even in Europe, the average Englishman perhaps knows little beyond name and station. For example, how many scores of Cambridge or Oxford men, comparatively well versed in American history and American politics, are aware of the flourishing existence of a university in the United States which had its origin in that fertile brain whence emanated the famous Declaration of Independence, and which to-day is carried on in the spirit and the letter of Mr. Jefferson's original plan for a great university? When the ex-president obtained from the Virginia Legislature in the early part of this century a charter for the establishment of the University of Virginia, William and Mary, the aristocratic old English college of colonial antecedents situated at Williamsburg, was in the heyday of its prosperity and usefulness. But William and Mary was a curriculum college, and Jefferson's ideas on the subject of education were as radical as were his views in politics. The mind which doubted the utility of a law of entail under a democratic form of government likewise entertained doubts as to the advantages of the curriculum in the instruction of the higher sciences; and so it happened that the State university, organised under his auspices, became a university in the true sense of the word more nearly perhaps than any other institution claiming the name in the New World. Long ago Henry Ward Beecher pronounced an eulogium upon the school and the system, in saying that every other institution in America was fifty years behind the University of Virginia. That the compliment was a deserved one is evidenced by the fact that Harvard and Yale have recently in degree superseded the curriculum by the eclecticism of the University of Virginia ; and that William and Mary, the second college in America in point of venerable old age, clinging religiously to her conservative theories and curriculum course, has lapsed into comparative poverty and impotence.
As in the foundation of the University, Jefferson looked to the old world for a system, so in its organisation and equipment, thither he resorted likewise for his professors ; and from England in the main came the first corps of instructors. Of these nearly all are dead in the fifty years that have elapsed since that time. Of those who survive, Professor George Long, who filled the chair of Ancient Languages, and is now professor in the University of London, is doubtless the best known. His name is held in reverence and kindly thought in Virginia, not only for the sake of his sojourn among her people, but also for the distin. guished tribute which he paid General Lee in the preface to his trans. lation of the “ Thoughts of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius.”
While the University in its religious tendencies is pledged to no one dogma or creed, with professors and students alike of widely differing denominations, yet its politics, naturally (if as a University it may be said to entertain politics), and this more especially since the Civil War, have been and are those of its distinguished founder. The autonomy of the States, and the diminution of the powers of the Central Government, are doctrines inhaled with the air of the place rather than inculcated in its schools.
With a ready sympathy for his misfortune at the hands of the electoral commission, no less than for the sake of his great reputation as a scholar and a speaker, the students in the University societies invited many months ago the Hon. Thomas A. Hendricks, of Indiana, the late nominee of the democratic party for vice-president of the United States, to deliver the annual address before them at the close of last season.
These literary societies of the University are old and cherished insti. tutions ; and it is a worthy pride of the oldest of them, the Jefferson, that its roster contains the name of America's most gifted though way. ward and eccentric poet, Edgar A. Poe. The minute-books of the society bear witness to the fact that Poe made his mark in college as a speaker, no less than as a graceful and easy prose essayist. As a poet, however, he achieved no reputation during his academical life.
As there is no curriculum, and as no honorary degrees are conferred under any circumstances, the examinations which fall at the end of the three-months' session are fraught with much significance, and are a period of much distress to the feelings of the ambitious undergraduate. No four-years' course of lectures, studied or neglected as the case may be, will suffice of itself to secure the coveted diploma. Nor can the aspiring student forget that never after the University gates are once closed behind him, can any subsequent success bring him the parchment scroll which proclaims him Master of Arts of the University of Virginia.
A topic of much interest for the annual meeting of the Society of Alumni is the consideration of methods to properly accommodate and provide for the great M'Cormick telescope, recently presented to the University by Leander J. M'Cormick, Esq., of Chicago, Illinois. This instrument is from the factory of Alvan Clarke, who is known as well in England as in America for his superior skill in work of the kind; and it is said to be of a larger size and more perfect workmanship than any other in this country, excelling even the gigantic instrument in the National Observatory at Washington.
News reached the University a short time ago that one of the twenty scholarships recently established in the School of Political Sciences in Paris for the benefit of foreigners had been awarded to the University of Virginia.
Apropos of Paris, Professor J. W. Mallet, of the School of Chemistry, was tendered by the President of the United States the position of a National Commissioner to the Exposition in the city on the Seine; but the honour was declined, as to it was superadded the necessity of a renunciation of allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen, which Dr. Mallet was unwilling to consent to.
Mr. James C. Southall, whose “ Recent Origin of Man" has attracted the attention and elicited the praise of some of the most distinguished English scientists, delivers the address on the occasion of opening the new Lewis Brooks Museum of Natural Science in connection with the Schools of Zoology and of Mineralogy and Geology.
Professor Venable, of the School of Mathematics, by a recent invitation from the President of the United States, represents the South on the Board of Visitors to the National Military Academy at West Point, New York.