Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

president of the College of New Jersey, then recently established, the legislature granted him a lottery for the aid of that seminary. A Calvinism was thought to prevail there, which was purer, or which was more faithfully inculcated.

Such was the predicament in which the president and fellows of Yale College found themselves, at the time when, according to President Quincy, their “ measures for perpetuating Calvinism in the land, were highly approved by all of that faith.” How entirely gratuitous this is, we believe to be abundantly clear. What inducement at that time was there for strict Calvinists to come to Yale College, and especially to leave Harvard ; since in the latter, so far as we can ascertain from this history, theological instruction was still given, according to the Westminster Catechism and Ames's Medulla, with few to molest or excite alarm? But it is said, that “ an accession of students to Yale College about this time, greater than at Harvard, was regarded as an omen of the advantages to be derived from a close adherence to Calvinistic doctrines.” Regarded by whom? We are fully confident that this is an unfounded inference. That there was such an accession is true; but it is ascribed to a wrong cause. The comparative number of graduates in the two colleges from 1745 to 1760, inclusive, is stated by the author, as follows. “ During the eight years, 1745—1752 inclusive, one hundred and ninety-four were graduated at Harvard, and one hundred and seventy-nine at Yale. During the eight years, 1753—1760, inclusive, two hundred and five were graduated at Harvard, and two hundred and fifty-four at Yale."* This calculation we are willing to admit as correct, without taking the trouble to verify it. The reason assigned of the greater increase of graduates from 1753 to 1760 at Yale than at Harvard is what we object to. It must be obvious to any one who has read the preceding remarks, that there is little probability that Yale College, even after the introduction of the test, certainly down to 1760, had a higher reputation for orthodoxy than Harvard. We know of no contemporary evidence to this effect. Allowing, however, that such was the fact, this difference did not lead to any influx of students into Yale from the eastern portion of Massachusetts. In the eight years from 1753 to 1760 inclusive, we can name with confidence but one, that is Samuel Wales, who came from that

* Vol. II. p. 462.

part of the country; whereas we could name several, who, within this eight years, graduated at Harvard from Connecticut. There cannot be a doubt, that the balance was in favor of Harvard ; that is, that more students went to Harvard from Connecticut, than from the eastern portion of Massachusetts to Yale. This is as might have been anticipated. The old attachments to Harvard were not worn out in Connecticut; gentlemen, who had been educated there themselves, sent their sons to the same place; and as to the comparative orthodoxy of Harvard and Yale, no such question was generally, if at all, agitated. But if students at this time were enticed to Yale, as President Quincy intimates, who were they ? from what places did they come? and what became of them?

To reply fully to President Quincy's calculation of the increase of students at Yale College, in consequence of the Calvinistic resolves of 1753, it is necessary to refer to the early sphere of operation of Yale College, whence its students were derived, and to what quarters it looked for support and patronage.

President Quincy seems to be of the opinion, not only that Yale College, in its youth, was too much occupied in reading the Bible and learning the catechism, but that it was born somewhat out of due time. His mistake here can be easily shown. At the time Yale College was instituted there was, in British America, no other seminary of the kind where instruction was given, except Harvard. The remoteness of Cambridge, especially when the facilities of travelling were so few, and the poverty of the country, left the greater part of Connecticut, New-York, Eastern New Jersey, and the parts beyond, without the means of a liberal education, such as their necessities required. It was for this region of territory that Yale College was at first designed; and it was from the west and from the valley of the Connecticut, that students were expected and actually came. At the time so particularly referred to by President Quincy, there were students in Yale College from the Carolinas. The success of the experiment might be demonstrated by numerous details, if the case demanded it; a slight reference to Smith's History of New-York will suffice. He says: “ It was from this seminary [Yale College) that many of the western churches in New-York and New Jersey were afterwards furnished with their English clergymen.” It appears from the same historian, that so late as 1746–47 all the 6 academics," as he terms them, in the province, with the exception of one or two from the university of Cambridge in England, were from Yale College. It is hence evident, that Yale College was not at first a mere hot-house plant, upheld in life by the warmth generated in Massachusetts controversies, but that it was originally the production of a fertile soil and a genial climate, and that it bore abundant and healthful fruit.

As the population of the country increased, the number of students at New Haven likewise increased ; and this, for half a century. About this time was founded the College of New Jersey, and soon after King's College in New-York, both of which, of course, drew some scholars from Yale ; the latter, in part, by being an Episcopal institution, and being patronized by men of high distinction in the parent country, the former, by being more accessible to those in its neighborhood, and enjoying the reputation of superior orthodoxy. From the establishment of the College of New Jersey to the revolutionary war, some of the more strict Calvinists of Connecticut sent their sons to that seminary; and this practice was discontinued only, when all other controversies and jealousies were absorbed in the national struggle for independence. Here it will be asked, if from 1753 and onward, students began to frequent the new colleges in New-York and New Jersey, and some still went from Connecticut to Cambridge, how it happened, that the numbers at Yale still continued to increase? The solution of this difficulty is easy, and at hand. In the charter of Yale College, granted by the legislature of the colony in 1745, the students were freed from all liability to military service. To escape being drafted into the army during the Canada campaigns, and expeditions to other quarters, many entered the college; which became a place of refuge, not for persecuted Calvinism, but for those who dreaded the dangers and fatigues of the camp more than they did heresy. No historical fact of the time is capable of more complete proof than this. Every new call for troops sent numbers to the college. From one town, where a sort of conscription had been enforced, seven students entered the college the following year; and at a different time, in another town, a similar cause brought five youth to the conclusion, that they were best fitted for a scholastic life. It is supposed that some came from the west and south, and some possibly from Massachusetts, for the same reason. Hence the phenomenon is explained, that notwithstanding the college was in great disrepute with the legislature, was viewed with jealousy if not hostility, by many of the clergy, and had but a doubtful reputation for pure orthodoxy; the number of students was not only not di

spale College isy and for somhich it was

ighi perpetuating resolves ; the nerely a

minished, but enlarged. In the paragraph, then, of this history, upon which we have been now commenting, there are great and important errors, which may be thus summarily stated. Yale College is represented to have been, about the middle of the last century and for some time after, a place of refuge for Massachusetts Calvinists, which it was not; a resolve is ascribed to the president and fellows, which is merely a historical recital in the preamble to their resolves; the measures taken at Yale College for perpetuating Calvinism in the land, are said to have been highly approved by all of that faith, which has been shown not to be a fact; and an increase of students at Yale College is ascribed to these measures as a consequence, with which it had not the slightest connection.

There are other passages in this work, in which Connecticut, or Yale College is alluded to, which furnish materials for remark; but of these, one only will be noticed. In speaking of the Episcopal controversy, the author quotes a passage from Archbishop Secker's answer to Dr. Mayhew, in which the following sentence occurs: “ There is, indeed, a college in New England, where students have been forbidden to attend Episcopal service, and a young man has been fined for going to hear his own father, an Episcopal minister, preach. But in Harvard College, it seems, a better spirit prevails; and it is more likely to flourish, both for that moderation and the new church built near it.” This intolerant college could be no other than Yale College; for besides Harvard, there was at that time no other than Yale in New England. The remark of Archbishop Secker, admitting it to be well founded, strikes us as coming from him with a very poor grace. No person could then become a student at Oxford, nor can now, without subscribing the thirtynine articles as a condition of his matriculation; nor be admitted to any degree at Cambridge, without going through the same ceremony. What student at either of the English universities would think of assigning as a reason for some delinquency, his attendance on a dissenting religious service ? Besides, Archbishop Secker was born and educated among the dissenters; and might be supposed, therefore, to understand and correctly appreciate the feelings and motives of his old associates. He must have known, that in Connecticut, at that time, Episcopalians were dissenters; and if they were subjected to any disabilities by the colonial government, or in the college, it was according to the example set the colonists by the parliaSECOND SERIES, vol. VII. NO. I..

18

ment and universities in England. The fact was, however, that when Episcopal worship was established in New Haven, all students belonging to the English church were allowed to attend its service on communion days; but at other times they were required to be present in the college chapel. The penalty for absence was a few pence. The probability is, that in the case referred to, the absence was noted; but whether the student was at his room, or at church, heard his father preach or any one else, was never a subject of inquiry by the college government. These remarks are made, that the circumstances of this occurrence, if there is any foundation for the story, may be understood, and not for the purpose of defending the law. This, without question, as all would now view it, was both illiberal and inexpedient; though there is no reason to doubt, that those who made the regulation fully believed, as they had departed so far from the strictness of the Episcopal church in England, that they were acting with a good degree of catholicism and kindness.

We have aimed to confine our observations within the limits, which we prescribed to ourselves in the beginning. No attack has been intended on any individual or institution. Our object has been, to give those interested in such inquiries an opportunity to see some things which can be said against, as well as for, a few positions taken by President Quincy, that they may judge for themselves where the truth lies. We wish not to be understood to maintain, that all the measures adopted and pursued at Yale College, have been, from its foundation, free from objection. That with some mistakes, very few if any intentional, it has done some good in the world, we fully believe; and should be the last not to acknowledge the same of Harvard. It appeared to us on first looking at this history of Harvard University, and a reperusal has not altered the impression, that all, whose knowledge of the subject does not extend beyond the limits of this work,—which description includes almost all foreigners and very many in our own country,—would rise from reading it necessarily with the conviction, that Yale College had been from the first, whatever the author may have intended, the seat of narrow sectarianism, bigotry, and all uncharitableness; and this, without one redeeming quality. Not believing this correct, we have felt it to be a duty to state briefly our own views thus far, and hence the preceding observations.

We are unwilling to bring our remarks to a close, without a

« PoprzedniaDalej »