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and a black or white cravat. The coat had an ornament
worked on the cuff of the sleeve in black silk braid which
was called a ' crow's foot.' A Sophomore wore one of these
badges, a Junior two, and a Senior three." ^ In 1829 the
waistcoat had to be of " black-mixed or black ; or, when of
cotton or linen fabric, of white." Sumner, who, in spite of
admonition, persisted in wearing one of buff-colour, " was sum-
moned several times to appear before the Parietal Board ^ for
disobedience ; but to no purpose. Wearied with the contro-
versy the Board at length yielded. There is a memorandum
on his College bill for the first term of his junior year — 'Ad-
monition for illegal dress.' " ^ It was perhaps in commemora-
tion of his triumph over authority that, seventeen years later,
when he dehvered his famous oration before the Harvard
Phi Beta Society, he appeared in a buff waistcoat.

1 Boswell's Life of yoknsoti. III. 13, n. 4.

2 Quincy's Harvard, II. 277.

8 Life ofB. R. Curtis, 1879, I. 23.

* "The Proctors, and the officers of instruction who reside in the Uni-
versity building, or in buildings to which the superintendence of the Uni-
versity extends, constitute the Parietal Board." — Catalogue, p. 32.

^ Life of Charles Sumner, I. 52.
F



66 HARVARD COLLEGE. chap.

In Harvard down to the present time there has been Httle
of that pleasant friendly intercourse between tutor and under-
graduate which so commonly exists at Oxford. Much as our
two great universities suffer as places of learning and even of
instruction from the college system, for most of the purposes
of social life they are admirably adapted. The unmarried
Fellows living in College, commonly on the same staircases as
the undergraduates, are not the strangers to them that the
Professors are in Harvard. Even the married Fellows and
tutors often retain a set of rooms where they can receive their
guests. They have the use also of the Common Room for all
purposes of hospitality. The College kitchen is at their service
as well as the College cook and the ancient College plate.
The Oxford breakfast-parties used to be proverbial for their
pleasantness, though in these busier days they are giving way
to luncheons. At such gatherings in a Fellow's rooms I have
in late years often met with great pleasure half a dozen under-
graduates, and in their bright looks recalled " the happy morn-
ing of life and of May," when all the world lay at our feet.
The friendliness of the relations between tutor and under-
graduate has greatly increased of late years. In my time we
scarcely came across our tutors save in the Lecture Room.
On Degree Days, however, the Dean gave a formal breakfast
to all who were taking their degree, and to a few undergradu-
ates besides. The meal was abundant and good. For that
brief hour our host dropped the don as far as he could, and
assumed somewhat of the air of a man of the world. He
addressed us with friendly familiarity. " Jones, may I send
you some of this chicken? Smith, will you help yourself to
some brawn? Oxford, you know, is famous for its brawn."
If there were any present who were taking the Master's degree,



IV. HARVARD COLLEGE. 67

the party broke up in time for them to read aloud the Thirty-
nine Articles of the Church in the presence of the Dean, and
to signify their assent and consent to them. Unless this were
done the degree could not be conferred. I remember how a
friend of mine, now a learned Canon, arrived so late at the
breakfast that there was scarcely time for him to read the
Articles, and none to swallow a single mouthful. The good-
natured Dean bade him begin to read as hard as he could and
go on till his breath failed him, when he himself would take up
the wondrous tale, to be relieved in his turn. In this way,
riding and tying as it were, they scampered through the whole
Thirty-nine Articles just in time. When two hours after break-
fast we returned to the same room and to the same table,
though alas ! very differently spread, for it was covered with
books, the change was chilling. " Mr. Smith, you were not
at my lecture yesterday." " ]\Ir. Jones, I hardly think your
rendering of that passage would satisfy the examiners." The
Master of the College now and then invited a few favoured
youths to breakfast or dinner. I remember how the great
man, as some sparkling perry was poured out, impressively
told us that her Majesty's judges, whom as Vice-Chancellor he
had lately entertained, preferred it to champagne. He was a
Canon of Gloucester as well as Master of Pembroke, and in
the great orchard country had learnt the excellence of perry.
The very best, such as we were drinking, cost him but two
shillings a bottle, whereas for his champagne he paid ten. I
sincerely hope, out of regard to the character of a man who
from a Canon became a Dean, and from a Dean a Bishop, that
he did not exaggerate his wine-merchant's prices. He cer-
tainly told us that the judges' preference of his perry saved
him eight shillings a bottle.



68 HARVARD COLLEGE. chap.

Far more formal were the dinners given in those days by the
Provost of Oriel. It was not till the morning of the solemn
day that he issued his invitations. All were expected to attend,
whatever may have been their engagements. His invitations
were of the nature of the Queen's — they were veiled com-
mands. The Junior Fellow, who received no longer notice
than the undergraduates, took the bottom of the table. When
the cloth was cleared away and the dessert set out, the Provost
solemnly addressed him. "Mr. Robinson, may I have the
pleasure of taking a glass of wine with you, and Mr. Brown
[turning to the undergraduate on his right] will you join?"
After a pause he challenged in like manner the guest on his
left, joining with him the second on his right. In this manner
he slowly and solemnly travelled down both sides of the table.
In the drawing-room no undergraduate might sit down in his
awful presence. One evening a young sprig of the nobility
was daring enough to take a chair. The Provost at once came
up as if to engage him in conversation, whereupon the youth
rose. A man-servant, who had been well-trained in his duty,
straightway removed the chair.

This kind of formality is a thing of the past in Oxford.
Some few traces of it may still hnger, but for the most part
between old and young there is familiarity and friendliness.
In one of the Colleges, on a Sunday evening, I have now and
then attended a large Literary Society, held sometimes in a
tutor's rooms, sometimes in an undergraduate's, where over
tea, coffee, and tobacco all meet on friendly terms with no
inequality but such as naturally comes from greater age and
greater knowledge. How unlike this free and familiar life is
to the restrained and distant relations which, too commonly
though not always, exist at Harvard between teachers and



IV. HARVARD COLLEGE. 69

students is shown by a passage in an article in the Harcard
Monthly} Last September, at the beginning of the academic
year, the President and the Professors for the first time gave a
kind of reception to the Freshmen.

"The manner in which the Class of '97- was received this
year [writes the editor] showed very plainly the existence of
a new policy in the conduct of the University. Heretofore a
Freshman entered college with almost no idea of his responsi-
bilities, or, indeed, of his advantages. He did not come into
contact with the Faculty, unless, perhaps, it was in consultation
with the Dean on some matters of entrance examinations. He
had no knowledge of those who directed the academic life of
his surroundings. The Faculty was something to be avoided
as disagreeable and, in most ways, useless. He knew nothing
of the eminent scholars from whom he might derive benefit,
since his instructors were simply his taskmasters, who, after all,
could do but httle if his daily tale of bricks was found incom-
plete. Thus he was shut off from one side of undergraduate
life. Perhaps it was years before he saw his one-sidedness ;
possibly he went on during his entire college career with an
idea that courses were bad because they emanated from a
Faculty which he had never known except as his stern, and
hence disagreeable, censors. All this has of late undergone a
radical change. The schoolboy who became a member of
Harvard College last month had the privilege of meeting his
governors on grounds of social freedom which have been here-
tofore unknown. His duties and opportunities were cleariy
set before him by representative men, scholars, and athletes ;

1 October, 1893, p. 37.

2 The Freshmen of 1893 are known as the class of 1897, because it is
in that year that they will graduate.



70 HARVARD COLLEGE. chap.

he was formally welcomed by the President, and started upon
his college career with the feeling that the Faculty of Arts and
Sciences was composed of most delightful men, neither so stern
nor so stupid as he had expected. Authority must be seen to
be respected. An emperor that absents himself from his peo-
ple's sight will find but little loyalty among his subjects when
he may be pleased to show himself. In former years the
Faculty have held more or less aloof from a visible participa-
tion in college interests, and the respect for their authority
has declined in proportion as they have so acted. Fortunately,
however, we seem to have just witnessed the beginning of a
new policy, which will doubtless tend to weld more closely
together the various parts of our University." I am told that
there is a good deal of exaggeration in this account, and that
not a few of the Professors are on terms of friendly social inter-
course with many of their pupils.

Professor Peabody, writing of Harvard as he first knew it sixty
years ago, says : " Though no student dared to go to a tutor's
room by daylight, it was no uncommon thing for one to come
furtively in the evening to ask his teacher's aid in some diffi-
cult problem or demonstration. The students certainly con-
sidered the Faculty as their natural enemies. There existed
between the two parties very httle of kindly intercourse, and
that little generally secret. It was regarded as a high crime
by his class for a student to enter a recitation-room [lecture-
room] before the ringing of the bell, or to remain to ask a
question of the instructor ; even one who was uniformly first in
the class-room would have had his way to Coventry made easy.
The Professors performed police duty as occasion seemed to
demand." ^ For a youth to be intimate with the tutors in

'^Harvard Reminiscences, pp. 183, 200.



IV. HARVARD COLLEGE. 71

Judge Story's time " would have exposed him to the imputa-
tion of being what in technical language was called a ' fisher-
man ' — a rank and noxious character in college annals."^
That in those days this ill-will existed is not surprising, for the
discipline of Harvard, in one respect, was more like that of a
French boarding-school than of a university. "The 'grouping'
of students used to be a penal offence, two having been a suffi-
cient number to constitute a group ; while in at least one
instance an extra-zealous Proctor reported a solitary student
as evidently waiting to be joined by another, and thus offering
himself as a nucleus for a group." - Even in Vienna, under
the rule of the Hapsburgs, a group cannot be formed, I believe,
unless there are five people gathered together. Four may stop
in the street and talk about the weather, without much risk of
being meddled with. Professor Peabody describes how in
1832 he and another tutor "had the chief charge of the police
in the College Yard. The rooms of the tutors and proctors
were at that time fully furnished by the College, and dark-
lanterns were among the essential items of furniture. Bonfires
had been of frequent occurrence in the Yard. The fires were
made of wood from the students' own wood-piles. [The bon-
fires in an Oxford quadrangle are too often made of chairs
and tables not brought from the rooms of those who make the
fire.] The chief object of these fires was to bring out the
posse of parietal officers in chase of the moving groups, that
scattered vvhen they approached, and dodged the dark-lan-
tern when the slide was removed. We determined to direct
our attention to the fire, and not to the students. We pulled
the ignited sticks apart ; and when the fire was thus arrested
we conveyed the fuel to our own rooms. After two or three

"^ Life of Joseph Story, I. 50. - Harvard Reminiscences^ p. 207.



72 HARVARD COLLEGE. CHAP.

experiments, the students grew tired of furnishing kindh'ng-
wood to their teachers ; and the wonted blaze and outcry
ceased for the rest of the year." ^

To bridge the distance which even in late years has existed
between teachers and pupils, between old and young, one re-
ception at the beginning of the academic year can do but
little. It is a sign, however, of a better day. I wish some
generous and wealthy benefactor would rise, some hospitable
man who knows how much a pleasant meal removes awe and
gives us " suppler souls," who would provide Harvard with a
Hall for the Professors, Assistant-Professors, Tutors, and In-
structors, a noble kitchen, a good cellar, a stock of old wine,
and half a dozen Common Rooms. Perhaps, large though
the staff is, one Common Room would suffice at first, till the
art of using it had been acquired. Two or three of the most
promising young men might be sent over to Oxford for a year
to study social life. They would see how even the married
Professors and tutors share in it, dining at least once a week in
College. No man thinks himself too old to dine in hall. The
generous hospitality of the place brings the men of the differ-
ent colleges together. The stranger too shares in it, and sees
a side of academic life which is found only in England. He
dines in a noble hall, adorned by the portraits of former
students who, in one way or another, had gained distinction in
the world ; from the dais on which he sits he looks down upon
the rows of tables filled with men all in the freshness of youth ;
as all stand up for the Latin grace he notices the picturesque
gowns, which by their shape mark the different ranks of those
who wear them. After dinner he is taken to a Common Room
dark with oaken wainscot — the room perhaps where James

^Harvard Reminiscences, p. 170.



IV. HARVARD COLLEGE. 73

the Second's arbitrary court was held, and where Addison, per-
haps, first learnt to like that wine which shortened his days,
and enabled him, at the early age of forty-seven, to show his
step-son " how a Christian can die." If it was in Addison's
College that our stranger dines, he may have noticed a lad
perched on a stool in a corner, close behind the President's
chair. It is a little chorister, ready to chant grace if he is
called on ; in any case to be rewarded with a slice of pudding.
In my College the signal for grace used to be given by three
blows struck with one small piece of board on another — three
blows, no doubt, in honour of the Trinity. The custom has
been allowed to die out. " I have always noticed," wrote the
antiquary Hearne, on hearing pan-cake bell on Shrove Tues-
day ring at eleven o'clock instead of at half-past ten, " that
when laudable old customs are changed learning decays."
Happily, in the present case, this observation has not been
verified. Everywhere in Oxford the stranger finds something
that is curious — something unlike all that he has ever seen
before. Such customs cannot be transplanted, they must
grow. No university can exclaim " Go to ; I will be venera-
ble." Let Har\'ard once get two or three Common Rooms
built, and hospitable customs will begin slowly to form. In
these rooms the teachers of the University will be able, not
only to entertain their friends and the chance-comer, but also
to meet their pupils ^^ sine idla solemnitate " in friendly gather-
ings. In Oxford the Common Room is often borrowed by one
of the Fellows for a private party. How pleasant are the
breakfasts and lunches that are given ! At one of them I had
the honour to meet the widow and the son of President Gar-
field. It is nearly sixty years since Longfellow recorded in
\i\% Journal : " Exhibition. Everett presides with dignity, but



74 HARVARD COLLEGE. chap,

cannot always lay hold of his collegiate cap in the right place.
Did not dine with the College ; I have not for a long time,
and shall not till they have a proper dining-room and service."^

The strictness of the discipline, added to the indifferent
quality of the " Commons," often led to rebellions. The rest-
less spirit of the age no doubt favoured insubordination ; for of
the more famous of these outbreaks the earliest took place in
1768, a few years before the Revolution. When once the
fashion was established, it was likely to be kept up in time of
general tranquillity. It went on at least as late as 184 1. In
1768, "the tutors' windows were broken with brickbats
and their lives endangered." Three students were expelled.
But so weak were both the Corporation and the overseers that
within a few months their punishment was remitted, mainly, if
not entirely, because " many who have been great friends and
benefactors to the Society have condescended to intercede in
their behalf" The aged President Holyoke, as his last official
act, entered on the records of both Boards his protest against
this unworthy conduct.^

At the Harvard rebeUion of 1768 "the scholars met in a
body under and about a great tree to which they gave the name
of the Tree of Liberty." ^ I do not know whether an earlier
instance can be found of those Trees of Liberty which, in little
more than twenty years, were to become notorious in France.
This Harv^ard tree some years after was either blown down or
cut down. Another Liberty Tree was soon chosen ; it is still
standing and plays a great part every Class Day. It has long
ceased to be revolutionary and is recognized by authority.

1 Life of H. VV. Longfellozv, II. 37.

2 Quincy's Harvard, II. 1 16.

^An Historical Sketch, etc., by W. R. Thayer, p. 51.



IV, HARVARD COLLEGE. 75

Professor E. T. Charming, whose admirable lectures in Eng-
lish kept his pupils generally free from the extravagances of
the Edward Everett School, " was not [we are told] graduated
in course, as he was involved in the famous rebellion of 1807,
one of the few in which the students seem, on the whole, not
to have been in the wrong." On this Professor Peabody re-
marks : '* I object to this statement as not broad enough.
I am inclined to think that in College Rebellions the students
were always in the right as to principle, though injudicious in
their modes of actualizing principle. There was not one of
those rebellions in which the leaders were not among the fore-
most in their respective classes, in character no less than in
scholarship. There were traditional maxims and methods of
college jurisprudence to which the professional mind had be-
come hardened, which to unsophisticated youth justly seemed
at variance with natural right ; and there was no form of collec-
tive protest that they could make which was not deemed rebel-
Hon in such a sense that they were compelled either to recant
or to leave college under censure. College rebellions have be-
come impossible because the rights of the students are now
fully recognized, their sense of honour held sacred, their protests
and complaints considered carefully and kindly." ^

Channing, if as a rebel he was not allowed to graduate, as
a man of letters had an honorary degree conferred on him
twelve years later. In the cases of other men the College
showed its leniency or its penitence. In 1823, thirty-seven
students, who had protested against an act of tyrannical disci-
pline, were refused their degree. Many years later the ordinary
degree was given them.

There was one rebellion which Professor Peabody must have

'^ffarvard Reminiscences, p. 84.



76 HARVARD COLLEGE. chap. iv.

witnessed in which the students do not seem to have been in
the right, even as to principle. Longfellow wrote on July 5,
1841 : "You have probably seen by the papers that we have
had a rebellion in College. It lasted, however, only two days.
All is again quiet and orderly. There was never a more silly
and boyish outbreak, nor one with less cause. Two students
have been expelled, and six dismissed from College." ^

"^ Life of IL. W. Longfellow, I. 379. "Dismission closes a student's con-
nection with the University, without necessarily precluding his return."
— Llarvat-d Catalogue, p. 32.



CHAPTER V.

Odd Characters. — Changes of Names of Places. — Commencement Day. —
Lafayette. — Russian Naval Officers. — Oxford Commemoration. —
The Association of the Alumni. — The Classes. — The After-dinner
Speeches.

STORIES are handed down, in Harvard, of presidents and
professors much as they are in Oxford. I have been told
that the late Master of Balliol sometimes unconsciously amused
a party of undergraduates whom he was entertaining at break-
fast by telling anecdotes of the Master of his early days, which
among his young guests were current about himself. An old
Fellow of a college, after he had sat musing for a while, said
to a friend : " When you and I were young, there were so
many odd characters about the University. How is it that
there are none now?" "We are the odd characters," his
friend replied. I hope that Harvard of the present day can
boast of its odd characters. It is only a brand-new university,
just turned fresh out of the hands of a millionaire, that should
have none. That there were some of old in the American
Cambridge is shown by Professor Peabody in his lively
Reminiscences. There was Professor Popkin who "was not
without a nickname which he accepted as a matter of course
from the students; but hearing it on one occasion from a
young man of dapper, jaunty, unacademic aspect, he said to a
friend who was standing with him, 'What right has that man
to call me Old Fop ? He was never a member of Harvard

77



78 • HARVARD COLLEGE. chap.

College.'"^ Longfellow, going one day to the Episcopal
Church in Cambridge, the church which Washington at-
tended, saw there, " Popkin, standing hoary-headed, red-
faced, with a narrow-caped, blue greatcoat, looking very
much like a beadle, and dragging along his heavy vocables
considerably in the rear of the rest of the congregation."^
Lowell describes his "great silver spectacles of the heroic
period, such as scarce twelve noses of these degenerate days
could bear."^ "Luagine," writes Professor Goodwin, "the
venerable Dr. Popkin stepping calmly out of his door on the
West Cambridge road, and waving his historic umbrella to
stop an electric car as it goes whizzing by." * There was also
Professor Hedge who had written a work on Logic, and, ac-
cording to popular report, was in the habit of saying to his
class : " It took me fourteen years, with the assistance of the
adult members of my family, to write this book; and I am
sure that you cannot do better than to employ the precise
words of the learned author." ^

President Kirkland, "a jolly little man," as Longfellow
describes him,® seems to have been a wit. In his day the
dogma of " the perseverance of the saints " was hotly dis-
cussed, the dogma, that is to say, that a man who has once
been brought to a state of grace can never fall from it.
" When a country deacon called on the President for advice
about a quarrel that had sprung up in his church concerning

1 Harvard Reminiscences, p. 45. This same story, I am told, is now
current of another member of the professorial, or more correctly, the
tutorial staff. His nickname was Piggy.

"^Life ofH. W. Longfellow, II. 132.

^Literary Essays, by J. R. Lowell, 1890, I. 91.

* Tke Present and Future of Harvard College, p. 6.

^ Harvard Reminiscences, p. 38. ^ Life of H. IV. Longfellow, I. 71.



V. HARVARD COLLEGE. 79

this dogma, he replied: 'Here in Boston we have no diffi-
culty on that score; what troubles us here is the perseverance
of the sinners.'"^ Lowell, in his Cambridge Thirty Years
Ago,'^ gives a pleasant account of the kindly old fellow. "This
life was good enough for him, and the next not too good.
The gentlemanlike pervaded even his prayers. His were not
the manners of a man of the world, nor of a man of the other
world either ; but both met in him to balance each other in a
beautiful equilibrium. Praying, he leaned forward upon the
pulpit-cushion, as for conversation, and seemed to feel him-
self (without irreverence) on terms of friendly, but courteous



Online LibraryGeorge Birkbeck Norman HillHarvard college, by an Oxonian; → online text (page 6 of 26)