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were not only right and helpful in themselves, but also necessary to College

1 All Historical Sketch, etc., by W. R. Thayer, p. 45.

2 Vol. II. p. 341.


discipline, partly as a morning roll-call and partly as a means of enforcing
continuous residence. It was therefore interesting to observe that the
omission of morning prayers for nearly five months, at the time of year
when the days are shortest and coldest, had no ill effects whatever on Col-
lege order or discipline. There was no increased irregularity of attendance
at morning exercises, no unusual number of absences, and, in fact, no visi-
ble effect upon the other exercises of the College, or upon the quiet and
order of the place. The Professors and other teachers living beyond the
sound of the prayer-bell would not have known from any effect produced
upon their work with the students that morning prayers had been inter-
mitted." 1

The President and Fellows, using their common sense,
passed a vote that attendance at Chapel should henceforth be
voluntary. The overseers, not using theirs, exercised their
right of veto. Some relaxation was however made; what is
called the thin edge of the wedge by all enemies of liberty
and progress was inserted, and, at last, in 1886, every student
was left free to worship God when and where he pleased, or
not to worship him at all. The result has been all that might
have reasonably been expected, and all that could have been
desired. "The average attendance at morning prayers is
upwards of two hundred. The service is a reverent and de-
lightful one." " Students no longer come rushing into Chapel
attired only in a mackintosh and rubber boots [goloshes], nor
do they finish their breakfast in the pews instead of reading
the responses."^ The service begins with the reading of a
psalm by the minister and students, in alternate verses, not
unhappily from the beautiful version in our Book of Common
Prayer, and is followed by an anthem sung by the choir.
" Sometimes a solo or duet is sung instead. After this comes
the reading of the Bible, with comments by the preacher and a

^ An Historical Sketch, etc., p. 46.

2 Higher Education, etc., p. 148 j Harvard's Better Self, by W. R.
Bigelow, p. 4.


prayer. It is the preacher's share in the exercises that is most
unique and most attractive. To listen every morning for two
weeks to the eloquent w-ords of Dr. Phillips Brooks, full of the
'beauty of holiness ' ; for another two weeks to search out the
distinctive features of the Old Testament books, as they are
explained by Dr. Lyman Abbott; to hear a glowing eulogy of
Moses from the lips of Dr. Edward Everett Hale, and to fol-
low him as he points out the greatness of the Bible heroes
from morning to morning; — these are high privileges, and
they are attractions." ^

In Harvard there is that ignorant dread of sameness in
the services of religion which in England, in recent years,
has led to the multiplication of hymns and hymn-books. The
great masters of our language who gave us the Book of Com-
mon Prayer had a better understanding of the human heart.
They had no fear lest perfect compositions, the ninety-
fifth psalm, the Te Deum, the four daily collects should
pall by repetition. Cranmer, whose ear for the melody of
prose has surely never been surpassed, did not vary the
close of matins and vespers. Who could grow weary of
that exquisite cadence in which the most beautiful of all
liturgies dies, as it were, away — " granting us in this world
knowledge of Thy truth, and in the world to come life ever-
lasting." However much we suffered in our childhood from
the services piled one on the other — Ossa on Pelion and
Pelion on leafy Olympus — and from the long and tedious
sermons, who ever grew weary of Bishop Ken's morning hymn,
with which, in so many churches in the old days, each Sun-
day's service always began, and of his evening hymn which
brought the afternoon service to a close? On a winter day,

1 Harvard's Better Self, by W. R. Bigolow, p. 2.

54 HARVARD COLLEGE. ciiAi-. in.

when the darkness which had fallen on the congregation
seemed only the deeper and the more solemn from the two
candles which lighted the preacher in the pulpit, how much
was the heart touched by the words so beautiful in their sim-
plicity, which Sunday after Sunday, and year after year, had
been sung by eight generations of men! In all religious ser-
vices, everything that is new is out of place. It is only the old
familiar words, the words which we first heard we know not
when, that deeply move us. We no more wish for fresh forms
of prayer than at the close of each winter we wish for a fresh
form of spring. To hear over and over again a beautiful
liturgy and the finest passages in the glorious English of our
Bible, is in itself the best of all trainings in the use of our
noble language. At no time in our history has there been
greater need of that constant repetition, that replication of
the noblest sounds, which imperceptibly but surely trains the
ear to melody. At no time has there been so much varied
reading, reading far too often of careless, extravagant,
affected, and mongrel English. When books were rare, and
newspapers rarer still, a few great authors were read again and
again. On great writers our fathers' style became modelled.
"Glowing eulogies of Moses" can surely be left to the Rev.
Dr. Harwoods of the world, the man who in his Liberal Trans-
lation of the New Testament, by expanding Jesus wept into
Jesus, the Saviour of the world, burst into a flood of tears,
provoked Johnson's indignant outcry of Puppy ! Outside of
the universities there are Rev. Dr. Harwoods enough in the
present day — certainly in England and, I have little doubt,
in America. Moses needs no eulogy beyond the English ver-
sion of his books. In the first chapter of Genesis, in the
story of Joseph, and in the thunders of Sinai, his praises are
written for all time.


Punishments and Fines. — "The Ancient Customs." — Fagging and
" Hazing." — Tutors and Undergraduates. — Rebellions.

IN Har\^ard an undergraduate who has any touch about him
of the antiquary or historian finds much to interest him in
the usages of the past. He finds a minuteness of discipHne
which is scarcely excelled by that contained in the book
which the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford handed to me and to
each of my companions when we matriculated, with the follow-
ing address : Sciiote vos in matriciilam hujiis Universitatis
hodie relatos esse sub hac conditione, 7ieifipe ut omnia statuta
hoc libro comprehensa pro virili observetis. If we ever examined
these statutes, it was certainly not for the sake of keeping them,
but of mocking them. At Harvard, where the age of the stu-
dents was younger, corporal punishment was kept up for nearly
a hundred years longer than in the English universities. I
doubt whether at Oxford any was inflicted later than the reign
of Charles II. About 1680 " the poor children " — the servitors
that is to say, or foundationers of Queen's College — were sen-
tenced to be whipped. It does not seem, however, that the
punishment was actually executed. ^ In the New England
University it was gradually discontinued, and by about the
middle of last century came to an end. Its place had been
taken by an elaborate system of fines. In them scales, as it

'^Hist. Comm. MSS Fleming 3ISS, pp. 166, 168.


were, are given by which we can ascertain the comparative

weight of sins in New England in the first half of the eighteenth

century. Omitting the fines for regulating conduct at Chapel,

which I have already quoted, and some others, it stands as

follows : —


" Absence from Professor's public lecture 4

Profanation of Lord's Day, not exceeding 3.0

Undergraduates tarrying out of town without leave, not exceeding /^r

diem 1.3

Going out of College without proper garb, not exceeding 6

Frequenting taverns, not exceeding 1.6

Profane cursing, not exceeding 2.6

Graduates playing cards, not exceeding 5.0

Undergraduates playing cards, not exceeding 2.6

Selling and exchanging without leave, not exceeding 1.6

Lying, not exceeding 1.6

Drunkenness, not exceeding 1.6

Going upon the top of the College 1.6

Tumultuous noises 1.6

Tumultuous noises, second offence 3.0

Refusing to give evidence 3.0

Rudeness at meals i -O

Keeping guns, and going on skating i.o

Fighting, or hurting persons, not exceeding 1.6" ^

It is interesting to see that for a graduate to play at cards
was three times and a third as wicked as for an undergraduate
to lie, and that to go skating was two-thirds as immoral as get-
ting drunk. I was told that thirty years or so ago " tumultuous
noises" were raised not only in the Yard but even in the classes,
while rough horse-play often went on. For some while past
all this has been looked on as " bad form," and is no longer
practised. " Nothing," says a writer in the Crimson, " could
show a greater contrast than the comparative stillness of the

iQuincy's Harvard, IL 499.


Yale Campus ^ and the Harvard Yard. In front of the Harvard
buildings no one yells * Fire,' or blows a horn ; men do not
shout for a friend under his room. A Harvard man would not
be able to understand the Yale fondness for pure noise."

The three shillings fine for " refusing to give evidence " per-
haps dates back to the rule of the second President, the divine
stubborn in the faith of adult baptism by immersion, who, when
consulted about the lawfulness of inflicting torture, replied :
" But now if ye question be mente of inflicting bodyly torments
to extracte a confession from a mallefactor, I conceive yt in
maters of higest consequence, such as doe concerne ye saftie
or ruine of stats or countries, magistrats may proceede so farr
in bodily torments as racks, hote-irons, &c., to extracte a con-
ffession, especially when presumptions are strounge ; but other-
wise by no means. God sometimes hids a sinner till his
wickedness is filled up." -

" The Ancient Customs of Harvard College established by
the Government of it " bore hard on the Freshmen, who were
little better than the fags of an English Public School.

" No Freshmen," we read, " shall wear his hat in the College
Yard, unless it rains, hails, or snows, provided he be on foot
and have not both his hands full.

" No Freshman shall speak to a Senior with his hat on.

" All Freshmen . . . shall be obliged to go on any errand for
any of his Seniors, graduates or undergraduates, at any time,
except in studying hours, or after nine o'clock in the evening.

" A Senior Sophister has authority to take a Freshman from

1 The precincts of a university, known as the Yard in Harvard, are in
most American universities called the Campus.

2 Governor Bradford's IListory of Plymouth Plantation (Mass. Hist.
Soc. 4th S. HI. 396).


a Sophomore, a Middle Bachelor from a Junior Sophister, a
Master from a Senior, and any Governor of the College from a

" When any person knocks at a Freshman's door except in
studying time, he shall immediately open the door, without
inquiring who is there.

" The Freshmen shall furnish batts, balls and foot-balls for
the use of the students, to be kept at the Buttery.

" The Sophomores shall publish these customs to the Fresh-
men in the Chapel, whenever ordered by any in the Govern-
ment of the College, at which time the Freshmen are required
to keep their places in their seats, and attend with decency to
the reading." ^

The unfortunate Freshman with a Senior Sophister calling to
him from one quarter, a Sophomore from a second, a Middle
Bachelor from a third, a Junior Sophister from a fourth, a Mas-
ter from a fifth, a Governor of the College from a sixth, must
have been far more distracted even than Francis in Shake-
speare's Henj-y IV., of whom the stage-direction says : " The
drawer stands amazed, not knowing which way to go."

Others beside the Freshmen were made to show respect for
their superiors by going bareheaded in their presence. " No
undergraduate shall wear his hat in the College Yard, when any
of the Governors of the College are there ; and no Bachelor
shall wear his hat when the President is there."

A Fellow of St. John's College, describing Oxford at about
the same period, says : " The principal thing required is ex-
ternal respect from the Juniors, however ignorant or unworthy
a Senior Fellow may be, yet the slightest disrespect is treated
as the greatest crime of which an academic can be guilty." ^

1 Quincy's LLarvard, II. 539. - Boswell's Life of Johnson, III. 13, n. 3.


For these regulations about hats the republican spirit of Har-
vard, quickened, if not called forth by the Revolution, became
too strong. About the beginning of the present century formal
permission was given to the students to wear their hats in
the Yard, no matter who might be present.^ As regards the
custom of going bareheaded, a singular change has taken place
in Oxford. In my undergraduate days every one wore his col-
lege cap in the quadrangle, even though he had not on his
gown. About twenty years ago men began to go about bare-
headed inside their college gate, even though their gowns were
on their shoulders. Gradually the liberties, if I may use the old
term, of each college were curiously extended. One day I
noticed an undergraduate in his gown walking bareheaded in the
Broad Street. I was told that, beyond all doubt, he was a Bal-
liol man ; as Balliol men assume that all the street in front of
their College belongs to Balliol, in spite of the impertinence of
the citizens who claim and maintain a right of way. In like
manner a Queen's College man walks bareheaded across the
High Street to the Schools.^

The rule at Harvard which required a Freshman at once to
open his door on hearing a knock deprived youth of one of its
highest satisfactions. How great was our pride when, for the
first time in our lives, we felt that in our case an Englishman's
house was his castle ; when we closed our inner and our outer
door and knew that, whoever might knock, law and custom
alike justified us in remaining silent and secluded.^ It is with
regret I learn that this good old custom in some colleges has

1 Quincy's Hafvard^ II. 278.

"^ The building in which the examinations are held.

^The outer door is solidly made, and opening outward, and having no
handle, cannot be forced without the greatest violence. To close it was,
and I suppose is still called in college slang, " to sport one's oak."


passed away, and that in them no undergraduate, of whatever
standing he may be, presumes to close his outer door. Bores
and idlers have gained the day. All their tediousness they can
now bestow on their neighbours.

In 1760 the Corporation passed a law which would have
greatly limited fagging ; but it was vetoed by the overseers.'
Judge Story says that this bad custom was dying out when he
entered Harvard in 1794. "I believe," he adds, "my own
Class was the first that was not compelled, at the command of
the Senior Class, to perform the drudgery of the most humble
services." " My father," writes the Judge's son, " was very
active in this reform. He invited his own fag to his room,
treated him with cordiality, and made him his friend." ^ Fag-
ging subsided into what is known in American colleges as
hazing — horse-play, more or less brutal, to which Freshmen are
subjected. "President Quincy," ^ writes Professor Peabody,
" laboured persistently to establish it as a rule that the students
of Harvard College should be held amenable to the civil
authority for crimes against the law of the land, even though
committed within academic precincts. The habits of the
students were rude, and outrages, involving not only large
destruction of property, but peril of life — as, for instance, the
blowing up of public rooms in inhabited buildings — were
occurring every year. Mr. Quincy was sustained by the Gov-
erning Boards, but encountered an untold amount of hostility
and obloquy from the students, their friends, and the outside
public. He persevered, and gradually won over the best pub-
lic opinion to his view. The principle is still admitted, and I
cannot but think that it ought to be practically recognized with

1 Quincy's Harvard, II. 134. 2 j jj-g of Joseph Story, I. 49.

^ President of Harvard from 1S29 to 1845.


regard to all forms of misconduct that are punishable outside
of the college walls. While the detestable practice of hazing
was rife, crimes that were worthy of the penitentiary were of
frequent occurrence, resulting in some cases in driving a perse-
cuted Freshman from college ; in many instances, in serious and
lasting injury ; and once, at least, in fatal illness. The usual
college penalty punished the parents alone. The suspended ^
student was escorted in triumph on his departure and his return,
and was the hero of his class for the residue of his college life.
I remember an instance in which a timid Freshman had his
room forcibly entered at midnight, his valuables stolen, and a
bucket of cold water poured upon him as he lay trembling in
his bed. Had the perpetrators of that crime been certain that,
in case of detection, they would be indicted for burglary, and
punished by a year or two of imprisonment, they would no
more readily have broken into a Freshman's room than into a
jeweller's shop." '

If this was the treatment that awaited the Freshman, the
tears of fathers, mothers, and sisters, in the midst of which he
left home, as described in Fair Harvard, are not surprising.
It was, with good reason, Launce over again — "my mother
weeping, my father wailing, my sister crying, our maid howling,
our cat wringing her hands, and all our house in a great

It would not be amiss if in our own universities the worst
forms of outrage were made amenable to the civil authority.
The drunken boating-men, who, only two summers ago, broke
into one of the Oxford colleges, and in a wild riot laid property
waste, would have been more fitly punished by a jail than by
a money penalty. The heavy fine that was inflicted on the

^ Rusticated. ^ Harvard Reminiscences, p. 31.


ringleader was raised by a subscription among the undergradu-
ates of tlie very College which he had outraged. He, not to
be wanting in magnanimity, presented its Boating Club with a
silver bowl. Wliat but a prison should have been the fate of
the Christ Church men, who, some years earlier, broke into the
Library, and brought from it an ancient statue which they cast
into a bonfire? In another large College, of late years men
have more than once shown themselves the fellows of the
ruffians who not long ago carried terror into the West End of
London. Ruffianism, wherever found, whether in the courts
of a college or in the streets of a town, should meet with the
same stern treatment. Lidulged, or feebly treated, it may, in
our ancient universities, lead to some terrible disaster — to loss
of life or destruction by fire of some noble and venerable

In Oxford, as in Harvard, "the suspended student" — the
rusticated undergraduate — is sometimes escorted in triumph
on his departure. A few years ago a ridiculous scene was wit-
nessed in Broad Street — a long procession of thirty or forty
cabs, following, at a foot-pace, some great but luckless hero,
who, for a season, was exiled from his University.

"Hazing" — to use the American term — in its less brutal
form is not unknown at the present day in Oxford. In every
college this rude horse-play may break out from time to time,
and in some few within the last forty years it has, for short
periods, been carried to a shameful height. Those, however,
who have suffered from it are few indeed compared with the
whole mass of undergraduates. In my own College I can re-
call but one solitary instance of persecution. The victim was
singularly unfit for a university. Even in a Quakers' College
he would have been made a butt. Though " hazing" is still rife


in many American universities, it has died out in Harvard.
With " window-smashing and disturbing a lecture-room, it is,"
writes Professor G. H. Pahiier, " a thing of the past." ^ It was
in the autumn of 1878 that the last man was hazed.

During my stay in Cambridge there was a slight revival of
a custom which seemed to have almost passed away. On the
first Monday of the academic year, known as " Bloody Mon-
day " in many American colleges, it has been the habit for the
Sophomores — the second year's men — to " rush " the Fresh-
men. Between these two classes there exists, why I know not,
" an instinctive antagonism." At Oxford there is nothing that
exactly corresponds to the American Sophomore, " a being who
at best has his pecuUarities," and is full of "a sense of self-suf-
ficiency." " Our second year's men are in no way a peculiar
people. The pecuHarities and self-sufficiency would be more
commonly found in the Freshmen, at all events in their second
or third term. So great at Harvard used to be the antagonism
between the two classes that to the timid Freshman this first
Monday was a night of " terrors and torments." ^ The more
daring met their enemies openly in the Yard. Each set formed
in ranks, nine rows deep, with arms locked. On the signal
being given, they met together in a rush. In the scuffle bloody
noses were sometimes given, clothes torn, and hats carried off
as lawful booty. The Freshmen were let to know that there
was no surer way of gaining admittance into some of the more
exclusive clubs than by a display of prowess on this great night.
A pair of black eyes, heroically earned, would have made their
proud possessor welcomed with acclamation. As the Harvard

1 The New Education, by G. H. Palmer, Boston, 1887, p. 28.

2 The Ne7u Education, p. 88.

3 An Historical Sketch, etc., by W. R. Thayer, p. 50.


Yard is not enclosed by a wall, rough fellows from outside,
when once the tumult began, could easily take part in it. Last
year, after a long interval of peace, these hostile lines were
once more formed, though neither was the combat waged with
the high spirit of old, nor were more than a small number out
of the two classes engaged. I was told by a student that a
knot of outsiders had been seen waiting, who no doubt at once
joined in. He added that a force of twenty policemen had
been present, who had " batoned " the undergraduates. The
twenty, I learnt, had grown by rumour out of five. These five
had been kept out of sight, but when neither Sophomores nor
Freshmen would disperse on the repeated summons of the
Proctor who had the charge of order that night, they were
called out and were ordered to make some arrests. Two stu-
dents were taken to the Police Station, followed by a great
crowd. The prisoners, as so often happens in such a case,
proved to be very quiet youths and were soon set free. The
police had perhaps shown some of that wisdom which Dog-
berry enjoins, and had only seized those who would stand when
they were bidden.

The regulations about dress last century, though somewhat
minute, were far less troublesome and absurd than those which
were enforced at Oxford. There was none of that elaborate
dressing of the hair which, in each college, kept the junior
members in a constraint almost as ignoble as if they had been
set in the stocks. They had to pass under the College barber's
hands at least two hours before the early dinner — the Seniors
coming last. When once they had been pomatomed and pow-
dered exercise was impossible. " A man might be a drunkard,
a debauchee, and yet long escape the Proctor's animadver-
sion : but no virtue could protect you if you walked on Christ


Church meadow or on the High Street with a band tied too low,
or with no band at all ; with a pig-tail, or with a green or scarlet
coat."^ In 1786, five years after this description of Oxford
life was written, the Governing Boards of Harvard prescribed
a uniform. What the colour and form should be was minutely
set forth. Classes were to be distinguished by frogs on the
cuffs and buttonholes. Silk was prohibited and home manu-
factures were recommended.^ Full forty years later these rules
were to some extent enforced. "In 1824 undergraduates were
required to wear a uniform consisting entirely of black cloth

Online LibraryGeorge Birkbeck Norman HillHarvard college, by an Oxonian; → online text (page 5 of 26)