Prof. Moses Colt Tyler, of Cornell university, has recently delivered a lecture upon the above subject.
There were established in America, said the lecturer, before the Declaration of Independence, nine colleges - Harvard, William and Mary, Yale, Princeton, King's or Columbia, the University of Pensylvania, Brown, Dartmouth, and Queen's or Rutgers. The church element entered largely into them all. A wonderful fact was the establishment of Harvard when the wolf was still at its doors. The founders of those colonial colleges were animated with the desire to provide learned ministers, learned laymen and to educate the Indians, and with a love of higher education for its own sake. The methods attending their establishment were typified in the building of Harvard, the patrons of which were not the wealthy few, but the mass of the poor. Gifts of money and of utensils - even to a silver beer-bowl and a jug tipped with silver - were contributed; and to these were added offerings of the peck of corn annually, of meat and ewe lambs, and of everything that could be turned into money. Thus the colonial colleges grew up "out of the sacrificial generosity of the heart of the people."
The colonial college, the lecturer continued, was a religious and educational garrison, founded on English modes and governed by rigid rules. Punch and "flip" were forbidden, and any student out after 9 P. M. was "adjudged guilty of whatsoever disorder might occur in the town that night." At Harvard Mrs. Foster was made stocking-mender at a salary of pound 12. Students were allowed a pound of meat and a pint of beer at dinner, and a half-pint of beer at night. For supper they could choose between a half-pint of milk and a biscuit. They were given clean table-cloths twice a week, and finally could indulge in the luxury of plates. Pudding was a delicacy three times a week.
Until 1734 corporal punishment was inflicted at Harvard. The president or tutors could administer public whipping in the hall, and overseers were called in on special occasions to witness the proceedings. This form of punishment degenerated into ear-boxing in 1754, and then to a tariff of college sins, when profane swearing was valued at 2s. 6d.; sending for liquor, 6d.; and fetching the same 1s. 6d. The marking system was introduced in 1761.
The studies were largely in divinity, theology, and the languages. Latin was the speech of the recitation room and the language of scholars. "Probably," said Professor Tyler, "not a college president of today would be capable of presiding at a college commencement of colonial days."
The results of these educational undertakings, said the lecturer in conclusion, were a class of superior men, whose influence was wholesome and conservative, and which especially was an education for political independence. Cornwallis said that the early establishment of Harvard College hastened American independence half a century, and Pitt gave testimony to "the solidity of reason, the force of argument and the wisdom" displayed by American statesmen at the time, who were graduates of American colonial colleges.