George Birkbeck Norman Hill.

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making a goose-pie was, I dare say, as indisputable as the skill
of the wife of the Vicar of Wakefield ; but education, like
argument, she left to others. While all the " gossips " were
ransacking their heads for a suitable name, it fortunately hap-
pened that an antiquary, Mr. A. M. Davis, in his researches
into the beginnings of Harvard, discovered that one of the
earliest benefactors of the infant College was Lady Mowlson,
the widow of Sir Thomas Mowlson, Lord Mayor of London
in 1634. Her maiden name was Ann RadclifTe. About the
year 1643, " out of Christian desire to advance good learning,
she gave one hundred pounds to be improved in New Englantl,
in the best way for the help of some poor scholar or scholars in
the College, and to be settled for that use." ^ How staunch a
Puritan she was, is shown by her subscribing in May of the fol-
lowing year no less than six hundred pounds towards the sum
of twenty thousand pounds sent to the Scottish army which
had marched into England in support of the Parliamentary
forces. ^ It is after this woman, animated as she was by a love
of liberty and of learning, that the College for Women is to be
called. Like the names of Harvard and Cambridge, it binds
the great New England University to the old country by a
fresh link. To the Oxonian it comes with a peculiarly pleasant
sound, recalling, as it does, his own Radcliffe Library.

Radcliffe College is far from being even now on a perfect
equality with Harvard. She is not as yet one of the members
of the great University. She no longer indeed gathers up the

1 Quoted from a letter by the Rev. Thomas Weld, dated Gates Head,
Jan. 2, 1649, given in Ann Radcliffe — I-ady Moivlson, by A. M. Davis.
Reprinted from the A^ew England Magazine, February, 1894, p. 773.

2 Il>. p. 780.


crumbs that are thrown to her. She has her seat at the well-
furnished table, but it is below the salt. She has time on her
side. Her full day will come when she is ripe for it. Mean-
while she must turn to the old foundation, as Portia turned to
her Lord Bassanio, and with her say that she

"Is an unlesson'd girl, unschool'd, unpractis'd;
Happy in this, she is not yet so old
But she may learn; happier than this,
She is not bred so dull but she can learn;
Happiest of all, is that her gentle spirit
Commits itself to yours to be directed,
As from her Lord, her Governor, her King."


The Library. — Gifts from England. — The Fire of 1764. — Gore Hall. —
The Bequests of Prescott, Sumner, and Carlyle. — J. L. Sibley. — Dr.
Justin Winsor.

THE Library of Harvard College, of which the foundation
had been laid in the bequest of John Harvard's books,
grew slowly but steadily during the seventeenth century, mainly
by gifts from England. It was largely increased by the Tar-
gums, Talmuds, and Rabbins of Dr. John Lightfoot, the Orient-
alist; of whom Gibbon wrote that " by constant reading of the
Rabbies he was almost become a Rabbin himself." ' It was more
than doubled by the bequest of the books of Dr. Theophilus
Gale, On April 4, 1689, Samuel Sewall, when on a visit to
Oxford, recorded in his Diary: "Was shew'd the Library and
Chapel of Corpus Christi Colledge and the Cellar by Mr. Holland
a Fellow. Library may be ab' the bigness of Han-ard. . . .
Said Holland treated me very civilly though told him was a
N[ew] E[ngland] man." ^ The books, whether acquired by
gift or by purchase, were of a solid and serious kind. They
had mostly been written by theologians who, like Armado, were
" for whole volumes in folio." Among the donors were such
men as the Rev. Mr. Rogers, the founder of Rowley, ^L1Ssa-
chusetts, who in his last will professed himself " to have lived

1 The Harvard University Library, by C. K. Bolton, p. 435; Gibbon's
Misc. Works, tA. 1796, II. 56.

2 Sewall's Diary, I. 304, 307.



and to die an unfeigned hater of all the base opinions of the
Anabaptists and Antinomians, and of all other frantic dotages
of the times that spring from them." In the same solemn
document he " protested against the general disguisement of
long, ruffian-like hair." ^ The age of the Restoration and of
Queen Anne came and went by without affecting the Library.
In 1723 "it contained no volume from Addison, or his fellows,
nothing of Locke, Dryden, South, or Tillotson ; Shakespeare
and Milton had been recently acquired." ^ In the same year
Cotton Mather recorded that " the scholars' studies are filled
with books which may truly be called Satan's library."" Per-
haps among them were some of Dryden's Plays and Tillotson's
Sermons, — equally detestable in the eyes of a rigid Puritan.
Seventy years later, when Channing entered College, " the
young men," we are told, "were passionately given up to the
study of Shakespeare." ^ What an outcry must Mather have
raised if he saw the letter which one of the greatest of Har-
vard's early benefactors, Thomas HoUis, sent with a parcel of
books from England. " If," he wrote, " there happen to be
some books not quite orthodox, in search after truth with an
honest design don't be afraid of them. A public library ought
to be furnished, if it can, with con as well as pro, that students
may read, try, judge. ' Thus saith Aristotle,' ' Thus saith Cal-
vin,' will not now pass for proof in our London disputations."^
Bishop Berkeley sent books — Berkeley, to whom belonged
" every virtue under Heaven " ; Bishop Sherlock, " whose
style," said Johnson, " is very elegant, though he has not made

1 Quincy's LLarvard, I. 426.

2 The LLarvard University Library, by C. K. Bolton, p. 436.
^ Quincy's LLarvard, I. 341.

* Life of W. E. Channing, I. 66.
5 Quincy's LLarvard, I. 433.


it his principal study," and the physician, Dr. Mead, " who
lived more in the broad sunshine of life than almost any man."
In January, 1 764, the Library was destroyed by fire. Dur-
ing the vacation the small-po.x had broken out in Boston, and
the General Court of the Colony had fled to Cambridge, just
as in earlier years in England the Parliament had fled to St.
Albans and Oxford. The Governor and Council met in the
Library, while the House of Representatives sat in the room
beneath. The weather was very cold, and too large a fire, it
seems likely, was kept up. " In the middle of a very tem-
pestuous night," writes an eye-witness, " a severe cold storm of
snow, attended with high wind, we were awaked by the alarm
of fire. Harvard Hall, the only one of our ancient buildings
which still remained, was seen in flames. In a very short time
this venerable monument of the piety of our ancestors was
turned into a heap of ruins." ' Of five thousand volumes only
a hundred were saved, and of John Harvard's books but a
single one. It bears the title of The Christian Warfare
against the Deuill, World, and Flesh. It was printed in Lon-
don in 1634.^ There was grief in the Colony but no despair.
Two days after the fire the House of Representatives " resolved
unanimously that Harvard Hall be built at the expense of the
Province, and granted two thousand pounds to begin the new
edifice." Subscriptions were made both in America and Eng-
land. "The Archbishops of Canterbury and York subscribed
and used their influence in favour of the College." From the
King and Court there came nothing, Benjamin Franklin gave
" valuable instruments for the apparatus ; also a bust of Lord
Chatham " ; Langhorne's Plutarch was sent by Boswell's

^ Quincy's Harvard, II. 112, 4S0.

2 Jlu Harvard Univenity Library, pp. 433, 437.


" worthy booksellers and friends," the Messrs. Dilly, at whose
house Johnson " owned that he always found a good dinner."
From Barlow Trecothick, the London Alderman, about whom,
despising him as a Whig, he asked, " where did he learn Eng-
lish?" came books and thirty pounds in money. Whitefield
did not forget the day when he had preached beneath the elm
on the Common, for by his own gifts and those of his friends
he was a large benefactor. Dr. Heberden sent three guineas^
— Cowper's " virtuous and faithful Heberden," " ultimics
Romanorum, the last of the learned physicians."

The Library grew rapidly, and by 1790 could boast of twelve
thousand volumes. During the Revolutionary War, by a gift of
the Legislature, it had received four hundred volumes confis-
cated from Tory refugees.^ Most of these unfortunate men, it
is to be hoped, had had time to carry off their books with
them ; otherwise the King's friends would seem to have been
but an ilHterate set. Eighty years after the great fire, in
August, 1834, an alarm was raised of a second conflagration.
A Protestant mob had burnt down a Roman Catholic Chapel
in a suburb of Boston ; in checking their lawlessness the Gov-
ernment had shown almost as much laxness as if it had been
an Anti-Slavery Hall that was attacked. Rumours of retaliation
spread, for Papists have never been so meek under wrong as
Abolitionists. On a certain night a bonfire, it was said, was to
be made of the Library of the College. A body of students
and graduates was secretly brought together to defend it. "At
dusk sentinels were stationed at the windows, muskets in hand,
ready to renew the sounds of war which had not been heard
within its peaceful walls since the days of 1775. They sent

^ Quincy's LLarvard, II. 113, 491.

2 Lb. II. 399; LLigher Education, etc., by G. G. Bush, p. 63.


out a waiter to reconnoitre towards Charlestown, He returned,
saying that he could hear nothing but frogs. At another time
a horseman came at full speed to announce that one thousand
Irishmen were on their way to Cambridge." ^ The thousand
Irishmen were as insubstantial as the four hundred Jesuits
who, at the time of the Popish Plot, crossed the Straits of
Dover on dromedaries and exercised every night on Hamp-
stead Heath.

The bequest of one hundred thousand dollars (^20,450)
made to his old College by an eminent Boston lawyer, Christo-
pher Gore, came at a time when the collection of books had out-
grown the building in which it was lodged. In 183S the foun-
dation was laid of Gore Hall, the present home of the Library.
Frequent gifts in money, books, and autographs have greatly
enriched it of late years, while the Corporation of the Univer-
sity has given it the most liberal support. On it and on its
branches in the different Schools little less than fifty thousand
dollars (;^ 10,225) ^^ spent every year,- two thousand pounds
more than was spent on the Bodleian in 1893.' American
scholars have not been unmindful of the debt they owe to their
Alma Mater. Prescott bequeathed to the Library his books
and manuscripts relating to the reign of Ferdinand and
Isabella. Sumner sent it more than fifteen thousand pam-
phlets. " He used to say that he preferred having them at the
Library rather than at his residence, because at the Library he
could find at once any particular pamphlet he wished to see."

1 The Harvard University Library, by C. K. Bolton, p. 441.

2 Higher Edtication, etc., by G. G. Bush, p. 106.

« Under the Copyright Act the Bodleian can claim a copy of every new
book free of charge. Nearly forty thousand volumes were thus received
last year.



On his death he left it many rare books ; among them an
Album in which Milton had inscribed at Geneva : —

" — if Vertue feel^le were,
Heaven it selfe would stoope to her.

Coelum non animu muto du trans mare

Joannes Miltonius

Juny io° 1639." 1

Lowell, when he was American Minister to Spain, wrote from
Madrid : " I buy books mainly with a view to the College
Library, whither they will go when I am in Mount Auburn,
with so much undone that I might have done." ^

Nay, even from our side of the Atlantic there came a
scholarly bequest. Carlyle left it a part of his "poor and
indeed almost pathetic collection of books," to quote the
words of his will. He adds : —

" Having with good reason, ever since my first appearance in Literature,
a variety of kind feelings, obligations, and regards towards New England,
and indeed long before that a hearty good will, real and steady, which
still continues, to America at large, and recognizing with gratitude how
much of friendliness, of actually credible human love, I have had from
that country, and what immensities of worth and capability I believe and
partly know to be lodged, especially in the silent classes there, I have now,
after due consultation as to the feasibilities, the excusabilities of it, decided
to fulfil a fond notion that has been hovering in my mind these many
years; and I do therefore hereby bequeath the books (whatever of them
I could not borrow, but had to buy and gather, that is, in general whatever
of them are still here) which I used in writing on Cromwell and Friedrich
and which shall be accurately searched for, and parted from my other books,
to the President and Fellows of Harvard College, City of Cambridge, State
of Massachusetts, as a poor testimony of my respect for that Alma Mater of
so many of my transatlantic friends, and a token of the feelings above indi-
cated towards the Great Country of which Harvard is the Chief School."

1 The Harvard University Library, by C. K. Bolton, pp. 441-43.

2 Letters of J. R. Lowell, H. 242.


As a marginal note " to Walker's Anarchia anglicana (Vol.
II. p. 139), where mention is made of the Eikon basilike of
Charles I., Carlyle has written in pencil: 'Shewing him (had
it been he, which palpably it was not) to have been the most
perfect Pharisee, inane Canter, and shovel-hatted Quack that
ever went about in clear-starched surplice and formula ! — Do
but read it.' " ^

One remarkable gift has lately been made by Longfellow's
heirs — five hundred and eighty-six volumes of American
Poetry, mainly presentation copies.' Who is so hard-hearted
as not to be touched with pity when he reflects on the five
hundred and odd letters which the unhappy recipient had to
write in acknowledgment of these cniel presents from his
brother bards? Compared with such toil as this the Village
Blacksmith's was a mere trifle.

Mr. J. L. Sibley, who was Librarian from 1S56 to 1S77, by
his constant importunities, added greatly to the collection
which he loved so well. " He begged from his friends the old
books and pamphlets which lay unused in their garrets. At
last, he says, ' I acquired the name of being a sturdy beggar,
and received a gentle hint from the College Treasurer to desist
from begging, which I as gently disregarded.' "^ Some twenty
years ago he published a book entitled Hanard Graiiuates.
His researches ended with the men who took their degrees in
1689. "There are," wrote Lowell, "ninety-seven of them by
tale, and as he fishes them out of those dismal oublicties they
come up dripping with the ooze of Lethe, like Curll from his
dive in the Thames, like him also gallant competitors for the

* Bibliographical Conlributious, ed. Justin Winsor, No. 26, p. 6.
2 Reports, 1892-93, p. 174.

* The Harvard University Library, p. 443.


crown of Dulnebs.' It is the very balm of authorship. No
matter how far you may be gone under, if you are a graduate
of Harvard College you are sure of being dredged up again
and handsomely buried, with a catalogue of your works to keep
you down. I do not know when the provincialism of New
England has been thrust upon me with so ineradicable a barb.
Not one of their works which stands in any appreciable rela-
tion with the controlling currents of human thought or history,
not one of them that has now tlie smallest interest for any liv-
ing soul ! And yet, somehow, I make myself a picture of the
past out of this arid waste, just as the mirage rises out of the
dry desert. Dear old Sibley ! I would read even a sermon of
his writing, so really noble and beautiful is the soul under that
commonplace hull ! " ^ In his last Report the old Librarian
wrote : " The Library has been during more than half of a
long life the chief object of my interest, and I have given to it
the best of my ability and attainments, and now my eyes have
become so dimmed that I am unable to read this Report."^

Under this good old scholar's successor. Dr. Justin Winsor,
the Library has grown with extraordinary rapidity. In the last
fourteen years the number of books has increased by one
hundred and fifty-nine thousand, and of pamphlets by one
hundred and eleven thousand.* He is a born Librarian. To
extensive learning, a love of books, and the scholar's kindly
gentle nature, he adds common sense and enthusiasm — a rare
combination — and great powers of organization. " I try
never to forget," he wrote, " that the prime purpose of a book

1 Lowell quoted from memory. It was into Fleet Ditch that the dives
were made, and Curll was not one of the divers.

2 Leiiers of J. R. Lowell, II. 147.

2 The Harvard University LAbrary, p. 443.
* Harvard University, by F. Bolles, p. 12.


is to be much read ; though it is equally true that we are under
obligations to posterity to preserve books whose loss might be
irrecoverable." ^ In this view of the Librarian's duties he has
the President on his side, who says in his last report : " How-
ever troublesome and costly it may be to teach thousands of
students the abundant use of books, it is the most important
lesson that can be given them during their student life."- In
the Harvard Statutes it is written : " The Library is for the
use of the whole University." ^ It is open for readers even on
Sunday afternoons during term-time. On only six week-days
in the whole year is it closed — Christmas Day and the five
great holidays of the Commonwealth, the Twenty-second of
February (Washington's Birthday), Fast Day (no longer kept
as a fast), Memorial Day (the Commemoration of the soldiers
who fell in the war between the North and the South), the
Fourth of July (Declaration of Independence), and Thanks-
giving Day (the general thanksgiving for the blessings of the
year at the end of November) . " Twenty years ago only
fifty-seven per cent of the students in College used it, now
over ninety per cent of the upper classmen are borrowers.
The elective system deserves a part of the credit for this
increased use of original authorities. The mere note-taking
or text-book studying student is now the exception where he
used to be the rule." ^ Undergraduates not only are allowed
to read in the Library, but those " who have given bonds may
take out books, three volumes at a time, and may keep them
one month." ^ To outsiders these privileges are extended.

1 The Harvard University Library, p. 446.

2 Reports, 1892-93, p. 36.
» Catalogue, p. 33.

* Harvard University, by F. BoUes, p. 87.
6 Catalogue, p. 483.


Last year nearly two thousand five hundred persons in all were
registered as borrowers, of whom three hundred and sixty-two
did not belong to the University.' " Books have been sent to
scholars as far south as New Orleans, and as far west as
Wisconsin and New Mexico. A very general use is made of
the Library by scholars in all parts of New England."^ It is
surprising, with such an extensive circulation as this, how small
is the loss. In his last Report the Librarian says : " Of
books reported missing since 1883 there are still four hundred
and fifty-nine unaccounted for " — not fifty volumes a year.
Almost all of these have disappeared from the shelves contain-
ing works of reference and certain other collections to which
all readers have free access.

While the Library is thus turned into a great school where
the young student is taught the use of books, learning and
scholarship are well cared for. From Professor Child I learnt
of the readiness of the University to provide even at a great
cost all the works which a scholar needs. For one rare book,
which he himself required for his English and ScoUish Popular
Ballads, no less than a thousand dollars (;^204) was given.
The Professor of the newly-founded Chair of Economic His-
tory, visiting England before he entered on his post, was
directed to order for the Library many rare and costly works
and documents which he needed. Every quarter the Harvafd
University Bulletin is issued by the Librarian, in which is given
a classified list of the principal accessions. Under his direc-
tion, moreover, is published from time to time a scholarly series
entitled Bibliographical Contributions. Fifty numbers have
been already issued, among them Principal Books relating to the

1 Reports, 1892-93, p. 173.

2 The Harvard University Library, p. 447.


Life and Works of Michaelangelo, with Notes, by C. E. Norton ;
The Bibliography of Ptolemy's Geography ^ by Justin Winsor ;
The Dante Collections in the Harcard College and Boston
Public Libraries, by ^^^ C. Lane ; A Bibliography of Persius,
by M. H. Morgan. How good a thing it would be if at
Oxford some of the money, too often wasted so far as learning
is concerned on scholarships and prize fellowships, were spent
in training young scholars in an exact knowledge of literature !
What excellent work might be done by them in the Bodleian in
preparing, under the guidance of learned men, a series of
bibliographies such as these ; or in gathering and arranging
material for the use of the editor of our great English Dic-
tionary !

In the course of fifty years the collection of books has again
outgrown the building in which it is lodged, in spite of the
addition of a wing and of the creation of several Departmental
Libraries. The number of readers, moreover, has so largely
increased, that sitting room can scarcely be found for the
undergraduates, while for men of learning a quiet place of
study is gready needed. He who has been used to work in
one of the alcoves in Bodley, where he was never crowded and
where his tired eyes could get rested as they looked down on
the pleasant lawn of Exeter College far below, would study
with reluctance in Gore Hall. However, with the abundant
liberty which is given to a scholar of borrowing books, almost all
the learned work is done outside the building in private houses.
The Librarian, in a Report written in November, 1892, spoke
strongly of the need of enlargement. " I have in earlier
Reports," he said, " exhausted the language of warning and
anxiety in representing the totally inadequate accommodations
for books and readers which Gore Hall affords. Each twelve

296 HARVARD COLLEGE. chap. xvii.

months brings us nearer to a chaotic condition." ' These
warnings, I conjecture, were addressed not to the Corporation,
but to the rich citizens of the Commonwealth in general. It
was for them to add to the permanent foundations of Harvard.
The warnings this time did not fall on deaf ears, and for a brief
space the brightest prospect was opened. In Frederick Loth-
rop Ames, one of the Fellows of the College, the generous
benefactor presented himself. Taking into his counsels the
Librarian and an architect, he planned a noble addition to the
building. When I was at Harvard Dr. Winsor was full of
happiness at the glorious prospect which opened before him
and his beloved Library. " In a moment it was night." The
warm heart was chilled and the generous hand closed by the
sudden stroke of death. Out of the ample fortune which he
left may his heirs soon raise to him that monument which, had
his life been lengthened by a few brief months, he would have
raised to himself.

1 Reports, 1891-92, p. 161.


The Government of Harvard. — The Charter. — The Overseers. — The
Corporation, Church, and State. — The Faculty. — The President. — The
Professors. — Oxford and Harvard.

" *" I ^HE management of Harvard College is in the hands of
J- three separate bodies ; the first of these being the
Faculty, or immediate government, having the entire discipline
of the students in its hands ; the second being the Corporation,
having the management of the funds and revenues of the College,
and the appointment of instructors, with other duties exercised
under the supervision of the third body, the Overseers, repre-
senting the interests of the graduates and of the public at large." '
Of these three bodies the oldest is the Board of Overseers and
the youngest the Faculty. The President of the College is rx
officio an Overseer, and President of the Corporation and of
the Faculty. It was in 1642, six years after the resolution was
passed to found the College, that the General Court of the

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Online LibraryGeorge Birkbeck Norman HillHarvard college, by an Oxonian; → online text (page 22 of 26)