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1. [Report of a Committee of the Overseers of Harvard College.]
Boston. 1824. 8vo. pp. 11. 2. Remarks on a Report of a Committee of the Overseers of Har
vard College, proposing certain Changes, relating to the Instruction and Discipline of the College ; read May 4, 1824, and to be taken into consideration June 1, 1824. By One, lately a Member of the Immediate Government of the College.
Cambridge. 1824. Svo. pp. 12. 3. Report of a Committee of the Overseers of Harvard College,
January 6, 1825. Cambridge, 1825. 8vo. pp. 179. 4. Speech of John Pickering, Esq. before the Board of Overseers,
on the question of the acceptance of the Report of a Committee recommending some Alterations in the Discipline and Mode of Instruction in the University. Published in the American
Statesman, February 1, 1825. 5. (Memorial of the Resident Instructers of Harvard College to
the Corporation of that Institution.] 1824. 8vo. pp. 31. 6. Remarks on a Pamphlet printed by the Professors and Tutors
of Harvard University, touching their Right to the Exclusive Government of that Seminary. By an Alumnus of that
College. Boston. 1824. 8vo. pp. 58. 7. A Letter to John Lowell, Esq. in Reply to a Publicalion entitled “ Remarks on a Pamphlet, printed
by the Professors and Tutors of Harvard University, touching their Right to the Ex
clusive Government of that Seminary." Boston. 1824. 8vo. 8. Further Remarks on the Memorial of the Officers of Harvard
College. By an Alumnus of that College. Boston. 1824.
8vo. pp. 36. 9. Report of a Committee of the Overseers of Harvard College,
on the Memorial of the Resident Instructers. January 6,
1825. 8vo. pp. 23. 10. Speech delivered before the Overseers of Harvard College,
February 3, 1825, in behalf of the Resident Instructers of the College. With an Introduction. By ANDREWS NORTON.
Boston. 1825. 8vo. pp. 59. The University at Cambridge, like every other important establishment, has at all times found many in the community who were ready to discredit its management and censure its officers. The vulgar, whether great or small, who are unable to appreciate intellectual endowments or to conceive of intellectual labour, have been inclined to look with an
evil eye upon those who seem to thrive without exertion. The friends of those who may have missed the honours or suffered the punishments of the institution, have occasionally permitted partial affection to get the better of their love of discipline in the abstract. Those who were unable to govern their children at all
, have been disappointed that they could not be governed at College with a milder sway. And of those who were without children, some have wondered that severity should be necessary in the government of the young, while others have been astonished that it was so seldom exercised. The literary outs, again, have looked coldly on the literary ins ; and the parties, whether religious or political, which have at different times divided the state, have not been more ready to agree on the subject of the management of the University, than on any other considerable point. Difficulties and clamours from such sources were to be expected ; and the governors of the College have submitted to bear what human wisdom could neither prevent nor avoid.
Within a few years, however, the complaints and objections have assumed a shape, and proceeded from quarters, which seemed to demand more attention. Not the careless and inimical only, but the well-wishers of the institution have lately thought they could perceive evils which required remedy, and incongruities which demanded explanation. It appeared to them that the number of pupils and their improvement was not in proportion to the increasing wealth and endowments of the College. They heard of frequent and large bequests to the funds, while they perceived no diminution of the expenses of education. They were told of the increasing apparatus and advantages of the institution, and were surprised that its classes did not greatly outnumber, and that in some instances they did not even equal, those of other institutions much less richly endowed. The reproach of these matters, when uttered by those unacquainted with the nature of the government, fell principally upon the resident instructers, who, of course, felt somewhat uneasy under the blame of a system over which they had no control, and for the errors of which, if any existed, they were not responsible. This uneasiness has been manifested in various ways, as will appear in the sequel of this article. In the mean time, as the real nature and organization of the government of Harvard University may not be known to the majority our readers, we shall quote the following account of it from one of the pamphlets at the head of this review.
The institution has been almost entirely under the control of the Corporation, a body, which has been composed of the President of the College, and six non-resident members; and which perpetuates itself, by filling its own vacancies. The Corporation originate all laws, appoint to all offices, confer degrees, and have the disposal of the funds of the College. Their more important measures are subject to the approval or rejection of the Overseers. But the power of the latter body has lain, till within a short period, almost dormant, and its proceedings have been little more than matters of form. * * *
The Overseers consist of the Governor of the State, the Lieutenant Governor, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the College, the members of the Council and of the Senate, all ex officiis, and of twenty permanent members, namely, ten laymen and ten clergymen, chosen from the community at large. Beside the Corporation and Overseers, there is a third body, called the Immediate Government, composed of the President of the College, of most of the resident instructers, and of the librarian. Four resident instructers, on account of the character of their offices, or from some other particular considerations, are not members. The duties of the members of this body, collectively and individually, are simply to carry into effect the laws of the Corporation respecting instruction and discipline.
Professor Norton's Speech, p. iv. We quote from the same pamphlet the account of the first steps towards the correction of the abuses and evils which were supposed to exist in the system of instruction and discipline.
It is well known to many, that for a considerable number of years past, great dissatisfaction with the condition of the College has existed in the minds of the resident officers, and others who have had an opportunity for a near view of its real state. In the summer of 1821, that is, about four years and a half since, a paper was drawn up by a highly respectable officer of the institution in the form of a letter to a member of the Corporation, containing a statement of some of the evils which existed, accompanied with proposals of remedy and reform. This communication, taken in connexion with the prevailing dissatisfaction with the state of the College, led the Corporation to direct their attention to the subject. A circular letter addressed to the resident instructers, and to one instructer not resident (I am uncertain whether to any others), was accordingly issued by them, dated in September, 1821. It filled seven closely written folio pages, and contained a great variety of questions, respecting the discipline, instruction, and morals of the students, to which answers were requested. Replies were given by most of the gentlemen addressed, as soon as practicable, some of them entering into the subject much at length. These replies were referred to a committee of the Corporation; and, that body having apparently by its proceedings pledged itself to undertake a reform, it was confidently expected by some that important changes would be introduced. Nothing, however, was done except promulgating some regulations respecting the expenses and dress of the students. With this exception, the whole business was suffered to sleep. In the summer of 1823, two
years after the subject had been first agitated; when it had become apparent that no effectual measures were to be expected from the Cor. poration, the only body, which, according to the usages of the College, exercised the power of originating any measure, the feeling of discon. tent with the existing state of things, which had been in some degree suspended by the hope of improvement, again recovered strength. It was determined by some gentlemen, with the full consent and approbation of those resident officers, who were acquainted with the design, to endeavour to bring the subject before your Honourable Body. p. 3.
So far matters seem to have been conducted with sufficient prudence and caution. The following proceedings seem more remarkable for zeal than good judgment. We continue the quotation from Professor Norton.
In July, 1823, several gentlemen were accordingly requested to meet in Boston at the house of a distinguished officer of the College. The gentlemen, thus called together, met, to the number of nine ; but, unfortunately, there was no resident officer of the College among the number invited. The gentlemen, however, who composed this meet. ing, discussed the nature of the improvements and changes, which the institution was thought by them to require, and determined to use proper measures to procure the appointment of a committee of your Hon. ourable Body, for the purpose of recommending to the Overseers the plan which had been agreed upon. p. 4.
If evils existed which the Corporation could not or would not remedy, it was expedient to procure an investigation by the board of Overseers—to prove to this board the existence of these evils; and when the facts were ascertained, to use means, if necessary, to excite them to call on the Corporation for the amendment of the abuses. To the Corporation, as Professor Norton intimates above, it belongs to " originate laws ;"—the business of the Overseers is to confirm or annul the doings of the Corporation. To call on the board of Overseers for an investigation of the actual state of the College is one thing; it was a very different one, we apprehend, to take measures for recommending to them“ a plan which had been agreed upon,” by a number of gentlemen, who supposed themselves to be beiter acquainted with the evils and wants of the College than its appointed governors. A plan, too, which, “unfortunately,” very unfortunately, we think, had been drawn up without the advice and concurrence of the resident officers. Certainly, if the Corporation are thrown out of the question, as they evidently were by the proposers of this reform, the resident officers must be the only body who have adequate knowledge of the true state and deficiencies of the institution. What were the Overseers expected
to do with the plan recommended? What could they do with it? They could send it to the Corporation to be acted upon if it pleased the gentlemen of that body, or to sleep with the statement which was addressed to them in the first instance. The Overseers could demand of the Corporation a reform of existing evils or the supply of existing wants; and when they were satisfied of either, they would doubtless make such demand. The thing necessary, therefore, as we before observed, was to demonstrate to them that the present state of the College needed improvement in the whole system of government and instruction, or in certain parts of it. The proper questions for the consideration of the Overseers would seem to be-What is the state of the College? Do any evils or wants exist, and what are they? What circumstances displease us, and what shall we call upon the Corporation to amend? These points were to be ascertained carefully and deliberately by a committee or otherwise, and the necessity of reform demonstrated—and that by public investigation, before any notice could be taken of a plan framed upon the presumption of evils, the existence of which was inferred from private, unofficial, and therefore, inadequate information; and, in some instances, from data which were exceedingly erroneous. The gentlemen in this instance, therefore, it must be acknowledged, were somewhat more hasty in their views than the magnitude and importance of the work which they assigned themselves would seem to justify. We extract from Professor Norton the account of the doings of the committee, which, in consequence of these measures, was appointed to inquire into the state of the University, and to report at the next meeting, or as soon thereafter as may be, whether any, and if any, what changes it would be expedient to recommend to the Corporation for its adoption relating either to instruction or discipline.”
Immediately after the appointment of this committee, I took the liberty of addressing a letter to the chairman, in which I strongly urged the importance of consulting the resident instructers respecting those changes which would most conduce to the good of the College ; of cooperating with them; and of taking advantage of their knowl. edge and judgment respecting the institution, and their deep concern in its prosperity. His answer was satisfactory. But there was, notwithstanding, no communication whatever between your committee and the resident instructers, on the subject of their report. It was not seen, por were its features known by any one of them, before it appeared in print. I have, during the present session of the General Court, received