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ward, may be found this paragraph : " On
this day se*n night, being the 5th of No-
vember, the president, masters, and scholars
of William and Mary College went, accord-
ing to their annual custom, in a body to
the Governor's, to present his Honor with
two copies of Latin verses in obedience to
their charter. • • • • Mr. President
delivered the verses to his Honor, and two
of the young gentlemen spoke them."

The College of William and Mary was
thus successfully founded, and from time to
time additional donations and bequests were
made to it by the Assembly, good citizens,
and Queen Anne, which may as well be
noticed here. Certain " well-disposed, char-
itable persons, for encouraging and furthering
so good a work," gave " two thousand pounds
sterling (^^2,000) and upward." The As-
sembly laid duties upon " raw hides and tan-

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ned hides, and upon all deer skins and furs
that should be exported and carried out of
the said colony," for the " better support and
maintenance oif the said college." Queen
Anne gave "the sum of one thousand
pounds sterling (;^i,ooo), out of the money
arising from the quit-rents." And in 1697
an important bequest was received from the
estate of the Honorable Robert Boyle, who
had left his personal estate to " such char-
itable and pious uses as his executors should
think fit." After some litigation, it was
agreed that William and Mary and Harvard
Colleges in America should have this fund.
Harvard was to have ninety pounds sterling
per annum, and the Virginia college the re-
mainder. The fund was invested in Eng-
land, in landed property called the " Braf-
ferton estate," and with the proceeds of this
charity the " Brafferton House," one of the

purchase, for the purpose, of three hundred
and thirty acres in the Parish of Bruton, near
Williamsburg, for the sum of one hundred
and seventy pounds sterling. The plan of
the building was drawn by Sir Christopher
Wren ; and Beverley, the Virginia historian,
says that it was intended " to be an entire
square when completed." It was never fin-
ished. The first commencement exercises
were held in 1700, and the ceremony seems
to have excited wide-spread interest. The
planters of the colony flocked to the capital
in their coaches — the dusky figures of nu-
merous Indians mingled with the crowd —
and it is said that curious spectators attend-
ed, from Maryland, Pennsylvania, and even
New York, making the sea voyage in sloops
for the purpose of being present. The sud-
den destruction of the building overthrew
all the sanguine hopes of its friends. In


buildings on the College Green, was erected.
The other building facing it, known as the
"President's House," was erected in 1732,
parrially burned through accident by the
French troops on their way to Yorktown in
1 78 1, and rebuilt by Louis XVI., who pre-
sented five or six hundred valuable volumes
to the library of the college.

To return to the first years of the institu-
tion, which, having now secured its charter
and ample means, fairly entered on life.
The site fixed upon by the charter was a
certain spot called " Townsend's Land," on
the southern bank of York River near York-
town, supposed to have been Shields' Point.
If the spot was found unwholesome, or any
other valid objection presented itself, the As-
sembly was empowered to select some other
site ; and this they now did, directing the

1705 a fire broke out in the college about
ten at night, and completely destroyed it
with its library and philosophical apparatus.
The event was regarded as a public ca-
lamity, and the crowd, it seems, stood
looking at the burning building in mel-
ancholy silence. We are told that "the
Governor and all the gentlemen that were
in town came up to the lamentable spectacle,
many getting out of their beds. But the
fire had got such power before it was dis-
covered, and was so fierce, that there were no
hopes of putting a stop to it, and, therefore,
no attempts were made to that end."

Steps were taken by the authorities to re-
build the college, and we are informed that
the work was going on in " Governor Spots-
wood's time ;" his term of office began in
1710. Owing to want of means and the

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scarcity of workmen, it was not finished
until the year 1723, but was so far com-
pleted in 17 19, that the Convention of the
Colonial Clergy held their session in the
building. Of the original edifice no picture
remains, but the tradition is, that it was
rebuilt in precisely the same style; and of
this second college we have a picture and
a description which will thus serve for
both : " The college fi-ont, which looks due
east," says Hugh Jones in "The Present
State of Virginia" (1729), "is double, and
is one hundred and thirty-six feet long. At
the north end runs back a large wing, which
is a handsome hall, answerable to which
the chapel is to be built. The building is


beautiful and commodious, being first mod-
eled by Sir Christopher Wren, adapted to
the nature of the country by the gentlemen
there ; and since it was burned down it has
been rebuilt, nicely contrived and adorned
by the ingenious direction of Governor Spots-
wood, and is not altogether unlike Chelsea

The College of William and Maiy entered
upon its long career in the pious spirit which
had moved the founders of the institution,
and the blessing of the Almighty seemed to
accompany its exertions, and go with it in
its work. The first words of the first entry
in the oldest record book of the Faculty are

the words of pious adjuration: In nondm
Dei^ Fatris^ Filii et Spiritus Sancti, Amen,
This rehgious character of the college was
indicated by the selection of officers to ad-
minister its affairs. We have noticed the
fact that the first rector was the excellent
James Blair, and its first chancellor Henry
Compton, Bishop of London. The Bishops
of London, with a single interregnum, con-
tinued to act as chancellors of the institution
up to the American Revolution, and the
presidents were the " commissaries" or repre-
sentatives of the bishops in the colony. The
college was thus, from the very first years
of its existence, throughout all the varied
scenes of its subsequent career, under pious
influences ; and when the colonies separated
firom the mother country the tradition was
not lost. After the Revolution it was pre-
sided over by the eminent Bishop Madison
and other distinguished divines, and by the
present venerable Bishop Johns of Virginia.
Every bishop in the State has, indeed, been
in some manner connected with its adminis-
tration, and the college, in spite of the infi-
del opinions which for a very brief space of
time seemed to be invading it, about the
period of the French Revolution, has been
styled '* the nursery of the Church in Vir-
ginia." Bishop Meade, one of tlie best in-
formed and most reliable of men, Elites:
" It is positively affirmed by those most
competent to speak, that the best ministers
in Virginia were those educated at the col-
lege and sent over to England for ordina-
tion. The foreigners were the great scandal
of the Church."

The college was uniformly regarded with
high favor, and assisted to the utmost by
the royal governors, who seem to have
looked upon it as an important supporter of
conservative ideas, and a nurse of loyal
opinions in political affairs. There is no evi-
dence that these characteristics were ever
exhibited in a truckling manner; on the
contrary, the great leaders of the Revolution
in Virginia were nearly all of them graduates
of the institution ; but it is a noticeable feet
that the English governors were its strong
fiiends. Lord Botetourt presented it with
a sum of money, the interest of which was
to be appropriated annually to the purchase
of two gold medals — one for the best classi-
cal scholar of the year, and the other for the
one most proficient in philosophy. Gover-
nor Spotswood was also strongly interested
in William and Mary, and exerted himself
to persuade the chiefs of the Indian tribes
to send their sons to the college. Many

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came, but the result was not encouraging.
At Henrico, the attempt to civiUze these
people had been repaid by a bloody mas-
sacre of their benefactors, and now the
whole scheme was seen to be illusory. The
young Indians entered as stu-
dents pined or fell into idle
courses. A writer in 1 7 24 says :
** They have for the most part
returned to their homes — some
with and some without baptism
— where they follow their own
savage customs and heathenish
rites, • • or loiter and idle
away their time in laziness and

The famous "Old ChapeP'
was built in 1732, and became
the place of sepulture of some
of the most distinguished men
of Virginia. It was in refer-
ence to the chapel and to old
Bniton Church that Bishop
Meade wrote: "Williamsburg
was once the miniature copy of
the Court of St. James, some-
what aping the manners of that
Toyal place, while the old church
grave-yard and the college
chapel were — si licet cum magnis
annponere parva — the Westminster Abbey
and the St. Paul's of London, where the
great ones were interred." The first person
who came to sleep beneath the pavement
of this American Westminster Abbey was
Sir John Randolph, who had espoused the
English side during the Revolution and
gone into exile ; and he was followed by his
two sons, John Randolph, formerly the King's
Attorney-General, and Peyton Randolph,
President of the first Congress, and by Bishop
Madison, first Bishop of Virginia; Chancellor
Nelson, and it is believed Lord Botetourt,
the royal governor, whose statue was in 1797
placed upon the college green. Botetourt
had been a warm fiiend of the Virginians
and the Virginia college; and, as he had
expressed a desire to be buried in the colony,
his friend, the Duke of Beaufort, wrote, after
his death, requesting that "the president,
etc., of the college will permit me to erect
a monument near the place where he was
buried." This phrase is supposed to indi-
cate that the old chapel of William and
Mary contained the last remains of the most
popular and beloved of the royal governors.

After long delay, and a successful weather-
ing of the chances of time and tide, the col-
lege was now, at last, in fidl operation. It

was a "beautiful and commodious" edifice
of brick, one hundred and thirty-six feet
long, surmounted by a cupola, with its rear
wing described as a " handsome hall ;" its
piazza extending along the western front;


its apartments for the " Indian Master" and
his scholars ; its park and extensive grounds,
containing one hundred and fifty acres ; and
here and there on the green rose great live
oaks heavy with foliage, beneath which
passed to and fro the sixty-five students of
the institution. Only here and at Harvard,
in the Western World, had the ingrained
instincts of the great Anglo-Saxon race
begun to fight ignorance and superstition,
and train the new generation in polite learn-
ing, and "good morals and manners" for the
coming years.

A recital like that just made, dealing with
charters, legislative enactments and dates, is
always more or less uninteresting to the
general reader, but has the merit at least
of conveying information. We come now
to a few incidents and details connected
with the career of the old college, which
will present a somewhat more lively pictiu-e
of its character and proceedings. The stu-
dents, whose average number up to the time
of the Revolution was about sixty, seem to
have resembled young gentlemen of their
class in all ages of the world, and the Fac-
ulty were much exercised to control their
restless energies, which took the direction
of horse-races, cock-fights, and devotion to

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what the ancient record calls " ye billiard or \
other gaming tables." It was ordered by i
the authorities in 1752, that no student of
any "age, rank or quality soever" (which


strongly suggests the presence of aristocratic
distinction) should " keep any race-horse at
ye college, in ye town, or anywhere in ye
neighbourhood ;" an offense which had been
evidentiy committed by some of the young
"bloods," as the order proceeds to direct
that all such race-horses should be " imme-
diately dispatched and sent off and never
again brought back ;" and the students were
to be in no manner " concerned in making
races, or in backing or abetting those made
by others." They were also forbidden, on
pain of severe animadversions and punish-
ments, to "presume to appear playing or
betting at ye billiard or other gaming tables,"
as noticed above, or to be in "any way
concerned in keeping or fighting cocks."
This order was probably a severe blow to
the mercurial young Virginians, who had
been trained at home to take delight in
thoroughbred horses and game-cocks, the
passion for which is noticed by the Marquis
de Chastellux as late as towaid the end of
the century, when he made his horseback
journey through the Commonwealth. Other
rules and regulations for the better ordering
of affairs at 9ie college have been preserved
in the old records. Tea and wiru whey
were luxuries which the housekeeper was only
to furnish to such students as were sick.
Whenever the "young gendemen" of the
college appeared in public they were to
wear the '' academical dress." Mrs. Foster
was to be "///^ stackinf^ mender in the col-
lege," with a salary of twelve pounds, pro-
vided she furnished her own " lodging, diet,
fire, and candles." On the subject of the
consumption of intoxicating liquors within
the bounds of the college, the views of the

authorities will probably be regarded as
somewhat lax, or, at least, as not amounting
to prohibition. " Spirituous liquors were to
be used only in that moderation which be-
comes the prudent and industrious student/^
but, for fear that this regulation might be
regarded as somewhat vague, the authori-
ties proceed to define the species of drinks
whidi the prudent and industiious student
was at liberty to use at his meals. From
the list were excluded all liquids whatever,
except " beer, cider, toddy, and spirits- and-
water," wine appearing to be prohibited in
consequence of its dangerous properties.
This singular legislation seems to have
worked badly, and there was much more
tippling at table in the college than ought
to have been permitted. In 1798, when die
" Bishop of Virginia was President of the
College and had apartments in the build-
ings," the English traveler Weld noticed
that half a dozen or more of the students —
the eldest about twelve years of age— dined
at his table one day when he was there;
"some were without shoes and stockings,
others without coats. During the diimer
they constantly rose to help Uiemselves at
the sideboard" — to beer, cider, toddy, or
spirits-and-water, it is fairly to be supposed.
The writer adds, that the dinner consisted
of " a couple of dishes of salted meat and
some oyster soup," and mentions, he says,
the queer proceeding of the students, as " it
may convey some idea of American col-
leges and American dignitaries." And it is
difficult to dissent from his strictures. The
habits of the epoch must have been singu-
larly lax to permit boys of twelve to sit at
table in their shirt sleeves and bare feet with


a bishop present, and rise from their places
during the meal to go and help themselves
at the sideboard.

The ancient records contain minutes of
the action of the visitors or governors of the
college on another subject also— nothing
less than the right of the Reverend Pro-
fessors of Divinity and Grammar to take

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unto themselves wives ! Nothing could be
more laughable than the course of the visit-
ors on this occasion, and it would be diffi-
cult to believe that grave and intelligent men
could, in good earnest, take such action as
was really taken by these gentlemen in the
year 1769, did not the yellow old record re-
main as a proof of the fact. The ire 01 the


governors had been excited, it seems, by the
strange and unwarrantable proceedings of
the Rev. Mr. John Camm, Professor of
Divinity, and the Rev. Mr. Josiah Johnson,
Master of the Grammar School, who, with
premeditation, no doubt, and without the
fear of the Worshipful Governors before
their eyes, had '^kUeiy married^ and taken
up their residence in the city of Williams-
burg, by which great inconvenience has
arisen to the college, and th^ necessary at-
ttntion which those Professors ought to pay to
the conduct and behavior of the students and
scholars has been almost totally interrupted"
This grave dereliction of duty, resulting in
such "inconvenience" to everybody, evi-
dently presented itself to the governors in
the bght of a crime calling for instant and
severe "animadversions and punishment,"
and fulmination ensued. They solemnly
declared* their opinion that the said Pro-
fessors, by '* engaging in marriage and the
concerns of a private family, and shifting
their residences to any place without the
college," had acted in a manner " contrary
to the principles on which the college was
founded, and their duty as Professors." As
a Bishop was generally the presiding officer,
and the Bible itself gave him the right to be
the husband of one wife, this prohibition
thundered against the Professors seems
strange. But the "governors" had evi-
dently made up their minds deliberately.

The first round was fired at Mr. Camm and
Mr. Johnson in September — in December
they discharged a broadside in the shape of
a comprehensive resolve " that all Professors
and Masters, hereafter to be appointed, be
constantly resident of ye college, and upon
the marriage of such Professor or Master,
that his Professorship be immediately vacated/ "
In sucli brief terms, stripped
of all useless or misty verbiage,
was the imperious anti-matri-
monial will of the gentlemen
governors fiilminated. The
• poor Professors and Masters
were not even to marry if they
continued to be "constantly
resident" within the college
bounds. The words of the
clergyman, " I pronounce you
to be man and wife," were
to operate instanter as a ter-
mination of their official con-
nection with the institution!
It must be said, however, to
the honor of the visitors —
whose stem decrees on the
above subject have now for a long time been
completely disregarded — ^that they conduct-
ed the affairs of the college in the most judi-
cious and intelligent manner, regulating
every detail, and administering its finances
so well, that its annual income reached four
thousand pounds sterling, which made it
"the richest college in North America."
Their excellent judgment was shown in the
appointment of George Washington, Thomas
Jefferson, and 2^chary Taylor, grandfather
of General Taylor, as surveyors, and in
many other ways. The college and grounds


were kept in perfect order, the students
brought under orderly government, the old
chapel was decorated with mural tablets
over Sir John Randolph and Bishop Madi-

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son, and under their sway the institution
flourished in every department An in-
teresting incident about the time of the
Revolution was the organization of the Phi
Beta Kappa Society, " the parent society m
this coimdy." The date of its origin was
December 5th, 1776, and the first meeting
was held in the " Apollo Room " of the old
Raleigh Tavern. When the college was
suspended in 1781, the records of this soci-
ety were carefully sealed up and placed in
the hands of the college steward, and on
their examination in the year 1850, it was
discovered that only one of the old mem-
bers, Mr. William Short of Philadelphia, was
still living. Mr. Short, who had been Presi-
dent of the Phi Beta Kappa when the
college was closed, was at once communi-
cated with, the society resumed its existence
with this connecting link, and is now in fiill
operation — ^its list of members before and
since the Revolution numbering some of the
most eminent names in the history of Vir-
ginia and in that of other States.

The fortunes, good or bad, of the College
of William and Mary were always so closely
wrapped up with those of the old metropoli-
tan borough of Williamsburg, that some ac-
count, however brief, ought to be given of
a few famous spots in the ancient capital,
whose very dust may be said to be historic.
In Williamsburg, every feature of the social,
political, and religious organization of the
epoch, reacted on every other feature. This
state of things was singular, and in vivid
contrast with the habitudes of the present
time. The Crown extended its fostering or
depressing hand over everything— over the
church and the institutes of learning, as over
political aflairs, the whole constituting one
fabric under " control of government." It
thus happened that William and Mary foimd
itself mixed up with all the ancient localities
— the scenes of very interesting events. Old
Bruton Church was for a long time the re-
sort of the students on days of public wor-
ship. At the Old Capitol they witnessed
the determined stand made by the Burgesses
against the encroachments of the Crown.
At the Old Palace they appeared annually
Oin the 5 th of November to present their
copies of Latin verses to the Governor, as
the representative of the King of England,
the head of the institution. At the old
Raleigh Tavern they met to found the Phi
Beta Kappa Society, or to join in the fes-
tivities of the fine assemblies held in the his-
toric " Apollo Room " in the building. When
the revolutionary outburst came, die great

drama was played before them, and they
mingled in their " academical dresses " with
the crowds which cheered the worthy Lord
Botetourt as he rode in his fine chariot^
drawn by its six white horses, to the Capi-
tol, or hooted the impopular Lord Dunmore
as he fled to his man-of-war in the river
after rifling the Old Magazine of its powder.
" Bruton Church," which is still standing,
is one of the oldest of these historic build-
ings, and took its name fi-om the parish —
the college having been built, it will be re-
membered, on land " lying and being in the
parish of Bruton." It was erected in 1678,
and became a prominent feature of the colo-
nial capital — a sort of miniature St Paul's.
The royal Governor had his fine pew there
under its canopy, and around him on Sun-
day were grouped the most disringuished
citizens of the place, the Councilors, Judges,
and Burgesses. The old Bruton Church
Communion Service is still in existence, and
is shown in our engraving. The cup and
patten are of gold, and were presented to
the church by Sir John Page. The flagon,
chalice and plate are of silver, and were
presented by King George III., whose coat-
of-arms is carved upon them. As the Rev.
Mr. Blair of the college was always closely
associated with the old church, of which he
became, in 17 10, the rector, the students of
William and Mary must have attended the
services, no chapel at the college having
yet been erected. The engraving will con-
vey a correct idea of this ancient cruciform
bmlding, whose ante-revolutionary history b
particularly interesting in connection with
its rector, James Blair. This gentleman
managed generally to be at dagger's draw
with the governors on ecclesiastical ques-
tions, and invariably overcame them, for
there never was a harder fighter or a more
dangerous adversary. When Governor An-
dros assumed high royal prerogatives in the
appointment of ministers, Mr. Blair went to
London, appeared before the Archbishop of
Canterbury, confix)nted the Governor's repre-
sentatives, and the historian of the affair
sums up the result in the statement — " Never
were four men more completely foiled by
one." An equally obstinate combat occiured
between Blair and his Excellency Governor
Nicholson, who had conceived a fiirious
passion for Miss Burwell, a young lady of
Williamsburg. Mr. Blair interfered in the
interest of "good morals and manners,"
when the violent Governor swore that he

Online LibraryFrancis HallThe Century, Volume 11 → online text (page 2 of 163)