Слике страница
PDF
ePub

0

A

MEMORIAL

CONCERNING THE

RECENT HISTORY

AND THE

CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AND PRIVILEGES

OF

HARVARD COLLEGE;

PRESENTED BY THE PRESIDENT AND FELLOWS

TO THE LEGISLATURE,

JANUARY 17, 1851.

CAMBRIDGE:

PUBLISHED BY JOHN BARTLETT,

BOOKSELLER TO THE UNIVERSITY.

1851.

Educ u 4810,58.51

HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
TRANSFERRED FROM THE
HARVARD UNION LIBRARY
MAY 7 1937

MEMORIAL.

To the Honorable the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The President and Fellows of Harvard College, having been notified to appear before the Legislature on the second Wednesday in January, 1851, if they shall see fit, to show cause why a bill, proposing a new organization of the College, reported at the last session of the Legislature, should not be passed, would respectfully submit to the government of the Commonwealth a brief statement of such considerations, as seem to them most important in relation to this subject.

In a document of this nature, which should assume the form of a Memorial, it is impossible to enter into a full examination of all the grounds, upon which the claims of Harvard College to the favor and fostering care of the Legislature are to be maintained. Little more can be done, than to suggest to those, who take an interest in the cause of thorough and sound education, some of the facts and reasons, which prove the great and constantly increasing advantages that have been derived from the organization and management of the College; to show how promptly it has met the rising demand of the community for higher and higher attainments of the pupils, and for improvements in the methods of instruction, and how earnestly and successfully it has sought for larger means of usefulness, which are at this moment, in their immediate results, giving the richest promise of future progress; and, finally, to indicate very concisely the legal argument demonstrating that the organization of the College, fortunate as it has proved itself to have been, cannot be safely, lawfully, or constitutionally overthrown, or essentially changed.

The Report of the Committee, who drew up and recommended the bill, is clothed in terms so vague, general and desultory, that it is not easy to bring its several points under any methodical arrangement; but the substance of the Report, by which the reasons for the bill are supposed to be sustained, may be divided into the three following topics.

1. That the College, in the language of the Committee, fails to answer the just expectations of the people of the State.

2. That the principal cause of this failure exists in the present organization of its government; and that a remedy is to be found in an alteration of its Charter, enlarging the number of members in the Corporation, and providing for their election by the Legislature.

3. That this alteration of the Charter is to be effected by a simple legislative act, without consulting the government of the College, and without its consent.

Upon these topics we proceed to speak in their order, showing that the allegations of the Committee are incorrect in certain particulars, as to matters of fact, unsound in principle, and hazarded apparently with little knowledge of the actual state of the University at the present time, and of its progress for the last forty years; and that their argument in support of an alteration of the Charter, by a legislative enactment alone, is at variance with established laws, and of a tendency dangerous to all chartered rights.

I. It is remarkable that so grave and sweeping a charge, as that of failing to answer public expectation, should be advanced without a shadow of proof, or even an attempt to show wherein the failure consists. It is easy to make assertions, but on so large a subject, involving so many interests and such a complication of details, is it just to make them without a patient and careful investigation of the facts? The loose remarks of the Committee on this important head afford neither proof nor explanation; and yet, upon this very point all the complaints in the Report, and the demand for a change in the organization of the institution, necessarily depend. If the College has been successful, no change is required. It has not been successful, say the Committee, and therefore its Charter must be altered. Here we have an opinion unsustained by proof, and an inference from such an opinion, and nothing more.

Since the Committee rest their strength upon this assertion, as the groundwork of the bill presented by them to the Legislature, we are bound to examine it somewhat in detail, and ascertain how far it is supported by well known facts in the recent history and present condition of the University.

[ocr errors]

Let us inquire, in the first place, what is the public opinion concerning Harvard College, compared with other similar institutions, in regard to its literary and scientific resources, the use that is made of them, and the quality, extent, and thoroughness of the education furnished to its students. Is it not true, that, in the judgment not only of its own graduates, but of the well trained scholars of other and rival institutions, it has always been regarded as not surpassed by any American college, for the amount and value of the instruction it gives? This reputation and position we are proud to believe are not yet lost, and they afford presumptive evidence, of the strongest kind, that, if there has been any failure to satisfy reasonable expectations, it has not been owing to the methods of instruction, or to the kind and extent of the education which may there be obtained.

This is said in no spirit of boasting, and with no desire to claim a superiority over other colleges, which has not a foundation in the circumstances attending the progress of Harvard College, and by which it is now surrounded, but merely to show, that the liberality and generous confidence, with which it has been fostered in this community, have not been bestowed in vain, nor without corresponding and appropriate results. Being the oldest College in the country by more than half a century, and having larger resources than any other, it ought to offer superior advantages to its students; and that it does so is only a proof of the discharge of an obligation, on the part of those to whom its government has been entrusted, which it would be discreditable not to have discharged. Nor is it presumptuous to say, that this duty has been steadily and faithfully performed, and that while the College has ever been recognized as the leading institution of the kind in the country, it has sought and embraced every opportunity for improvement in the means and methods of instruction, introducing new studies as the progress of science and intelligence has required them, and striving at all times to elevate the standard of the

« ПретходнаНастави »