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answered , ' you seem to me to be the only young man I

one who has social training." I was, however, much struck with the use of
the term boy ; so I leave the text unchanged.


know.' * Always young for liberty, I trust,' replied Dr. Chan-
ning with a bright smile and a ringing tone, as he pressed
him warmly by the hand."^ Thirty years had to pass, and
then this Harvard indifference was swept away by the South-
ern revolt. In the presence of that dreadful strife, indiffe-
rence would no longer have been ridiculous, it would have
become hateful.

Professor Goodwin thinks that it was by "the equable
pressure " of a revised system of instruction and examina-
tion that "the older enthusiasm" of the place was mainly
repressed, and this indifference was encouraged.- Free play
was no longer given to the student's mind. He was forced
to attain to mediocrity in many subjects, and was not en-
couraged, and was scarcely allowed to secure excellence in
one or two. There had been students who had refused to
cramp themselves in the narrowness of the prescribed course.
Lowell read widely, and was rusticated in consequence.
Motley escaped this disgrace, but not the reproach of his
tutor, who one day " remonstrated with him upon the heaps of
novels upon his table. 'Yes,' said Motley, 'I am reading
historically, and have come to the novels of the nineteenth
century. Taken in the lump, they are very hard reading.' '"
At the present day the author of The Biglow Papers and the
historian of the Dutch Republic could have indulged their
tastes to the full. This "Harvard indifference " cannot surely
long survive the great reforms in education which have already
done so much to transform the University from a mere place
of teaching to a place of learning.

'^Memoir of \V. E. Channing, 1848, III. 304.

2 The Present and Future of Harvard College, p. 13.

' Holmes's Memoir of J. L. Motley, ed. 1889, p. 13.


There is another fault for which Harvard men are reproached
by their rivals and enemies. They are distinguished, it is
said, by a certain priggishness, a certain consciousness too
openly shown that they are not only the salt, but the superfine
salt, of the earth — a priggishness and a self-consciousness
which, it is said, sometimes cling to them throughout life.
What Boston is to Masachussetts, what Massachusetts is to
New England, what New England is to the United States,
what the United States are to the Universe, that Harvard is to
Boston. Among " the five points of Massachusetts decency "
laid down by Wendell Phillips, to be a graduate of Harvard
College holds the second place. The "old Harvard spirit"
on which they prided themselves, was tho\aght by some to be
the spirit of a gentlemari carried to preciseness. They are
fond of telling a story of a man who had twin sons, one of
whom he sent to Harvard, and the other to Yale. Before
they entered College, no one, not even their father, could tell
them apart; but after graduation the difference was plain.
One was a Harvard gentleman, the other a Yale tough. Wealth
and family are said to count for much at Har\'ard. The New
Englander is as proud of his pedigree, and often with as
much reason, as any English nobleman or squire. A Bache-
lor of Arts of Yale, who recently spent two years at Harvard,
the first as a graduate-student, and the second as an instruc-
tor, — evidently a fair-minded man, — writes: "I have lived
long enough at Yale to know that Yale students are not com-
monly rufifians; and I have seen enough of Harvard to know
that Harvard students are not as a class snobs. Yet there is
a slight element of truth even in these gross caricatures; it is
the difference between 'Fair' Harvard and 'Dear Old' Yale.
The Harvard atmosphere occasionally produces ' an affectioned


ass,' and the Yale spirit sometimes turns out an insolent
rowdy. "^

I have been told by one familiar with the Continental Uni-
versities that, measured by their standard, the Har\'ard stu-
dents are deficient in those graces which were so dear to Lord
Chesterfield's heart. In formal politeness, in the lesser
morals, the students in their behaviour towards a Professor
fall short of the standard which is observed in Germany and
France in their behaviour towards each other. Nevertheless,
beneath this somewhat unpolished outside much real kindness
lies hidden. A young Professor, who had but recently joined
the University, told me that in the midst of the work of his
first term he had been struck down by diphtheria. His pupils
not only every day sent flowers and fiTiit, but begged that one
of them in turns should always sleep in his house as long as
the illness lasted, so that in case of sudden need there might
be a swift messenger close at hand to summon the doctor.
He had won their hearts, as I learnt from another source, by
his courage and his devotion to his work. As soon as he
knew the nature of his illness, he had sent them word that he
was attacked by a dangerous malady, which would very likely
carry him off; but that he hoped that they would go on with
the experiments on which he had left them engaged. To
such students as these might be applied Goldsmith's saying
about Johnson : " He has nothing of the bear about him but
the skin."

Whatever pride of wealth and birth may exist in Har\-ard
or in Yale, no student in either of these great Universities
need hang his head for honest poverty. Many of them gain
their own living more or less, and gain it by bodily labour.

1 The Harvard Crimson, June 23, 1893.


Wages are so much higher in America than in the old country
that it takes far less time, and draws far less on a man's
strength for him to earn money by the use of his arms and
legs. Bodily work, happily, is not commonly looked upon
as anything degrading. To gain his livelihood by the sweat
of his brow is not disgraceful even in an undergraduate.
Emerson, when a student in Divinity Hall, after he had taken
his degree as a Bachelor of Arts, falling ill, went to his uncle's
farm for a change. The Emersons were too poor for idle-
ness, so he helped to till the ground. " Working here in the
field with a labourer, they fell a-talking, and the man, a
Methodist, said that men are always praying, and that all
prayers are answered. This statement struck Emerson, and
upon this theme he wrote his first sermon, which he preached
that summer in Waltham in the church of his uncle Ripley.
Next day in the stage-coach a farmer said to him, ' Young
man, you'll never preach a better sermon than that.' "^ Not
only will students work on a farm, for which they might as
Republicans plead, if they were weak-minded enough to need
a plea, the example of the ancient Romans, but they work as
servants. They have not that miserable shame of " doing any-
thing menial " which so often besets needy people in the old
country, who would think it less dishonourable to live on alms
than by honest service. When I was at Yale, I was told that
the poorer students of that University, without any loss of
general estimation, help to gain their livelihood by bodily
work. Some of them in the winter tend house-furnaces, which
only need looking after early every morning and late every
evening. In America, the whole house is often warmed by a
single furnace in the cellar, whence hot-water pipes are carried

^ Emerson in Concord, 1889, p. 31.


to the hall and all the rooms. The maid-servants never
attend to it, for it is not thought to be fit work for a woman.
Wages are so high that it is only the wealthy who can afford to
keep a man-servant, so that the furnace must be tended by
the master of the house and his sons, or by an odd-job man.
Such a man is said "to do the chores."^ A student tries to
get two or three houses to look after in the same part of the
town, so that he may not lose time in going from one to the
other. Some give their services as waiters at the clubs where
their comrades take their meals, receiving in return their
board free of charge. I was assured by an undergraduate
that no one is thought worse of for doing such work as this.
Emerson, in his first year at Harvard, had a room rent-free in
the President's house, by holding the post of President's
Freshman. He had to carry official messages to the students
and officers of the College.

It was common enough in Oxford till early this century
for undergraduates to wait at table. Dr. Johnson repre-
sented to Lord Macaulay's great-uncle, a Scotch minister, the
advantages of a servitorship, by which a poor scholar earned
his living and his education by menial services given during
part of every day. Two servitors of his own College attained
great eminence last century, though an eminence of a very
different kind. One was Whitefield, the famous Methodist
preacher, and the other Moore, Archbishop of Canterbury.

^ Chore, which is of the same root as char in charwoman, is used to
describe the odd jobs about a house which are properly done by a man.
It is never applied to the work done by a charwoman. By Shake-
speare (I follow Johnson's edition) chore is used of woman's work : —
"The maid that milks and does the meanest chores." Anthony and
Cleopatra, Act IV., Sc. 15.


Each of them might proudly have said with the King's

son: —

" Some kinds of labour
Are nol)ly undergone, and most base matters
Point to rich ends."

I was told in my undergraduate days, but I do not know
whether there is any truth in the story, that it was the Earl
of Derby, afterwards Chancellor of the University and Prime
Minister, who gave the system of servitorships the blow of
which it died. When he was a gentleman-commoner of
Christ Church he refused, it was said, to be waited on by
his fellow-undergraduates. Dean Liddell informs me "that
in 1830, when he first went up to Christ Church, the Junior
Servitor used, immediately after grace had been said, to walk
up to the High Table with a sauce-boat. This was of course
a relic of the old custom." In Exeter College, less than half
a century ago, the Bible-clerk^ dined off the leavings of the
Fellows' Table. He used to come late to dinner, hitting off
the time when the joint was likely to be done with, and
could be sent down to him.

Goldsmith, who had too often suffered humiliation, and who
felt its bitterness to the full, had raised his voice against the
system. "Surely," he wrote, "pride itself has dictated to the
Fellows of our Colleges the absurd passion of being attended
at meals, and on other public occasions, by those poor men
who, willing to be scholars, come in upon some charitable

^ " The Bible-clerk had the duty of reading the lessons in chapel and of
saying grace in Hall." Dr. Murray's Dictionary. In my College the
Bible-clerks — there were two of them — did not read the lessons. In
Chapel they kept the list each service of those who were present. In Hall
they said grace. They were on an equality with the rest of the under-


foundation. It implies a contradiction for men to be at once
learning the liberal arts, and at the same time treated as slaves ;
at once studying freedom and practising servitude."^ He
forgot that often it was the case, if not indeed always, that the
charitable foundation in itself was not sufificient to support
and educate these poor men. Like many a needy student
outside a university, for part of each day they had to work for
their living. Whitefield had been a servant in his mother's
inn at Gloucester — the inn whose praises are sounded in
Tom Jones. When he came to Pembroke College he was
still a servant, but he was a student also. It is doubtful
whether poor scholars were not greatly wronged by a change
which was meant to give them freedom. The funds which
supported them, now that the badge of servitude was re-
moved, were far too commonly competed for in examina-
tions by all alike, and far too often fell to the lot of the
well-to-do. In the long training needed for the athletics
of the class-room, money is of great service, for by money
the ser\'ices of the most skilful trainers are secured. The
poor man fighting with difficulties may get the better edu-
cation for the great main of life; but through the narrow
straits of the examination-room the son of the rich man,
unless his industry has been sapped by wealth, is often borne
along in triumph. "As many a poor man has worked his
passage over the sea to some settlement where a freer and
a larger life awaited him, so by a servitorship has many a
man worked his way from a life of low drudgery to some high
and honourable calling. The student-servant is no longer to
be found at Oxford. But the poor student who, in his eager-

^ An Enquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe,
Chap. 13.


ness to fight his way by his learning, is ready for any duty,
however humble it may be, finds one way barred to him that
was open to the men of former generations." ^ I knew a young
man who supported himself and his widowed mother by the
humblest kind of work in a large factory. By great self-denial
he had got together a well-selected library of five or six hun-
dred volumes. In philosophy his knowledge was surprisingly
great, considering the difficulties against which all his life he
had struggled. In some parts of the Natural Sciences he was
deeply interested. When, on a visit to Oxford, he was taken
into one of the lecture-rooms at the Museum, he sat down on
a bench, and looking about him, after a pause said that there
was no sacrifice that he would not make could he sit there as
a learner. "How gladly," he exclaimed, "would I sweep
out these rooms, if I could thereby get a right to sit on these
benches." There was indeed no honest service that he would
not cheerfully have rendered could he thereby have supported
himself as an Oxford student. "Gladly wolde he learne."
Inquiry was made on all sides, but with all the wealth of the
University there was no opening for such a man.

At Yale I was told of a fund of money which, not many
years ago, had been placed in the hands of one of the Pro-
fessors by a wealthy man, as a memorial to a son who had died
in his undergraduate days. It was to be used in the relief of
needy but meritorious students. The Professor sent for one
of the most promising of his men, an Irishman and a Roman
Catholic, who was, he knew, very poor. The young man,
when assistance was offered him, nobly replied that there were
others who stood in greater need than he did, for he had regu-

1 1 am quoting a book which I pubHshed in 1878 under the title of Dr.
Johnson : His Friends and His Critics, p. 30.


lar employment, — enough to make the two ends meet. He
rose every morning at four o'clock, and went to a newspaper
ofifice, where he was engaged in the delivery of the papers.
The Professor pointed out to him that such work as this
lessened his strength for his studies, and so at last he induced
him to take the money. At the end of his University course,
he came out the first man of his year. The same Professor,
who had spent part of the summer vacation in an hotel on the
mountains, told me that one morning rising early he came
across a youth who was the night-watchman and shoe-black of
the house. Falling into talk with him, he learnt that he was
a student of one of the Western colleges. On being asked
for the first line of the ^7ieid, he readily gave it. The first
line of the Iliad he did not know, for as yet in his Greek he
had not gone beyond the New Testament. In his night-watch
he had his hourly rounds to make, one or two furnaces to look
after; in the morning he had the shoes to clean. In the
intervals of work he had time enough left for the vacation task
which had been set his class — the perusal of four novels, two
of which were Esmond and Dombey and Son. At the Chicago
Exhibition my friend the Professor found out that a Bath-
chairman whom he employed was a university student. An-
other Yale Professor told me that in his undergraduate days
"ability and good-fellowship were the qualities which did
most to make a student generally popular. There was a small
set of poor men, distinguished by their ability, into which the
richest men would have been proud to enter." At the pre-
sent time I fear that both at Yale and Harvard excellence in
athletic sports would outweigh with many of these men even
ability and good-fellowship.

Out of regard to the convenience of the poor students, the


Long Vacation down to the year 1869 came in the winter.
"The longest vacation," wrote Ticknor, in 1825, "should
happen in the hot season, when insubordination and miscon-
duct are now most frequent, partly from the indolence pro-
duced by the season. There is a reason against this, I know,
— the poverty of many students who keep school for a part of
their subsistence."^ It was in the winter that the children
attended school. In the summer they were, no doubt, em-
ployed on the farms. Even at the present day, in New Eng-
land, the village schools are commonly closed from about the
middle of June to the middle of September. A Plan for the
Distribution of the Tutors' Work and Service, drawn up in
1766, gives a curious insight not only into the poverty of some
of the students, but into a mode of life altogether different
from that which now prevails. It was proposed "that, to
prevent the great inconvenience attending some of the scholars
going home at one time and some at another, in the spring
and fall, to procure clothing, there shall be a short vacation in
the spring and fall." ^ The clothing which they went to pro-
cure no doubt had been spun and woven on their fathers'

By the substitution in recent years of the summer for the
winter as the time of the Long Vacation, the poor but indus-
trious student has gained more than he has lost. I was one
day taken by a friend into a large hotel on the southern coast
of Cape Cod where the maid-servants and the waiters were
mostly school-teachers or university students. Many of the
women belonged to one of the Colleges where women-
students are admitted, and four of the waiters were HarA^ard
undergraduates. The shoeblack of the year before had

1 Life of George Ticknor, I. 358. - Quincy's Harvard, II. 498.


been a medical student from New York. This season he
had earned his promotion, and was now the bath-room stew-
ard. These young people did their work well, my friend
told me, and were courteously treated by the guests. They
would not, he added, have tamely submitted to rudeness.
They all took their meals together, apart from a lower class
of servants who did the rough work of the kitchen and scul-
lery. An American lady told me that sometimes at a winter
dance in Cambridge or Boston a girl would meet among the
guests a Harvard undergraduate who had been a waiter in
the hotel where she had passed the summer. I asked her
what reception he would have. It depended, she said, on
the character of the girl. Most, having sense and good feeling
enough to respect him for his courage in earning his living,
would be pleased; some few would be offended.

When I was staying in a seaside village, I four times took
a drive in a hired carriage. One day my driver was an
undergraduate home for the vacation, and another day a youth
who next term was to enter college. On the third day I was
driven by a man who worked in a large shoe-factory, and who
was taking a week's holiday. His uncle, he said, had been a
Senator of Massachusetts. One of his nephews had just entered
Brown University, and he hoped in time to send his own son
there also. With one of my companions, who was a Har\'ard
Professor, he discussed the advantages and disadvantages of
some of the New England Universities.

In the Harvard Crimson, as the Long Vacation was draw-
ing near, there appeared from time to time advertisements by
business firms offering employment, such as the following : —

"Houghton, Mifflin and Co. are desirous of corresponding
with College men who like employment through the summer."


" A large manufacturing house wishes a brainy \sic\ young
man for its office."

Students, moreover, who were already acting as agents, put
forth their advertisements.

" Yale's disadvantages. — She has not eight quick sail or rail-and-

water routes to the World's Fair, as I have. Stop at Washington, D.C.,

Niagara Falls, White Mts. 5i3-6o saved. Tickets to all points West.
Please call before I leave, June 20."

" HOTEL SORRENTO, Sorrento, Me. — First-class in every re-
spect — has a beautiful location, on Frenchman's Bay, seven miles from
Bar Harbor. SPECIAL RATES for July. Charles V. Carter, Mang,
Illustrated pamphlet and terms of . . . " ^

The Governing Body of Harvard, in their desire to bring
the University within the reach of poor scholars, seven years
ago opened " an Employment Bureau in the University Office.
All needy students are encouraged to seek through this
agency for opportunities to earn money. As the Bureau
extends its services to those who are about to take degrees
in Arts and Sciences, and as it is able to secure permanent
positions for the great majority of those who are graduated
with good standing, men of small means feel more confidence
in their future, and less dread of being unable to repay loans
and advances to those who are encouraging them in securing
a College education." -

There are usually about two hundred names on the books of
the Bureau. From the letters of the poor students I have
extracted the following account of the ways by which money
is earned : —

"Teaching a private school and giving lessons in German to students in
the College."

^ I have suppressed the names and addresses of these two advertisers.
"^ Students' Expenses^ p. 5.


"Officiating in a small congregation."

" Lecturing and writing for papers."

" Waiting on table, ^ teaching night-school, tutoring, singing, and by at
least a dozen other business schemes."

" Tending the furnaces in the house where I roomed."

" Gardening."

" Index-making."

" Laboratory assistant."

" Clerk in a summer hotel."

"Clerk in Memorial Hall."

" Porter in a summer hotel."

" Publishing notes, waiting on tables, type-writing, outside jobs, as post-
ing bills, copying, etc."

" Odd jobs, publishing placards, advertising scheme, teaching school,
publishing books."

The notes which one of these students published were no
doubt those which he had taken down in the lecture room.
The Dean of the College in his Report for 1892-93, speaking
of that temptation which besets lazy students everywhere to
do no work until just before an examination, says: "If they
were then left to themselves, they might learn the consequence
of idleness and teach it to their successors; but, unhappily,
their demands have created a supply of wage-earners who sell
notes, make a careful study of the questions likely to occur
and recur in large elementary courses, hold, on the night
before an examination, 'seminars ' in which they review, at
one, two, or three dollars a ticket, the work of a half-year,
and in general abet idle students in shirking their daily duty."
At Harvard, as at Oxford and Cambridge, the orthodox race
of "crammers" or "coaches" flourishes, composed entirely of
graduates who have acquired a great dexterity in driving know-
ledge into heads not always intended by nature to receive it.

^ In America the servant waits on table; in England, at table.


The following advertisement I cut out of the Harvard Crim-
son : —

" History 12 Review. — The course will be reviewed in Manter [a
Block of Rooms] at 2 to-day as follows: English History from 1760 to
1837, at 2 p.m.; English History from 1837, ^""^ Continental History at
7.15 p.m. Fee for each review, ^4 [i6j. 40'.]. Gentlemen will confer a
favour by not opening accounts for reviews."

In the last paragraph it is delicately implied that the four
dollars must be paid before the "review" begins. With such
men as these the Dean does not attempt to deal. Indeed, he
admits that in certain cases they have their use. The under-
graduates who traffic in notes he would suppress so far as he
can. " Students engaged in illegitimate coaching," he says,
** should receive no scholarship or other pecuniary aid; for,
however studious they may be, however resolute in educating

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Online LibraryGeorge Birkbeck Norman HillHarvard college, by an Oxonian; → online text (page 15 of 26)