« PreviousContinue »
lecturers being few, and the tutors rather directing and assisting the study of books, than presenting themselves instead of books."
- Address, pp. 26 - 28.
With regard to the moral conduct and character of her students, we believe that Harvard College need not shun comparison with any similar institution in the country.
There are, probably, fewer young men of rigid, ascetic morality there than at some other colleges ; but we doubt whether there is anywhere else a nearer approach of the great majority of the students to a respectable moral standard.
The moral tone of the College on many important subjects is firm and high. (Meanness is never tolerated there,) and the grosser forms of dissipation meet with general abhorrence. Wine, or a villanous compound to which the venders give that name, is the student's greatest enemy; convivial intemperance his chief danger. A vigorous stand against the use of wine was made a few years ago by some of the more thoughtful among the undergraduates; but the temperance society which they formed, unless recently endowed with new life, has been suffered to languish and to become inefficient. When we remember at what shining marks within those halls the demon of intemperance has taken fatal aim, when we recall to mind the consciousness of perfect safety and self-control professed by those who there commenced their swift march to a drunkard's grave, we feel constrained to appeal with earnestness to all who occupy places of trust, counsel, instruction, or influence in connection with the College, to aid in establishing within its walls the principle and habit of total abstinence from intoxicating liquors. It is the youth's only safeguard. In the excitement of merry society, unrestrained by the presence of those of maturer years, he is easily made blind to the limits between moderate and excessive indulgence; and, those limits once passed, the shame of drunkenness once incurred, the precedent is established for all future similar occasions. But with these students, precept will be vain without example. The preacher of abstinence must himself abstain. No matter if he can command by special importation the pure blood of the grape, and from the very hills whence flowed inspiration for Anacreon's song, while the grocer's back-shop is the student's Samos and Madeira;
the two will be drunk or thrown aside together. We trust that Harvard will not enjoy another year the unenviable distinction of being the only college in New England, that furnishes her alumni with intoxicating liquors at their Commencement and anniversary dinners. It is the earnest desire of very many of the best friends of the College, that there should on this point be a departure from ancient custom. They dare not hope, that wine-drinking will grow into discredit with the students, while the assembled learning, talents, and piety of New England make public exhibition of it on three consecutive days every year. We doubt whether any parties would feel aggrieved by the disuse of wine on these occasions. We have in former days tasted the wine of the Commencement dinner, and can record our unhesitating testimony, that it comes from the vintage which supplies the students ; it bears the same brand ad nauseam ; whatever fortunes it may have sustained on land, it is “ expers maris.” No lover of wine ever thanked the Corporation for it ; but many dear lovers of their Alma Mater, many anxious parents, many youth rescued from the contagion of bad example, will “ rise up, and call them blessed,” if they will put away this nuisance. On this subject we gladly fortify our own opinions and suggestions by the weighty and judicious remarks of Judge White.
“Who of us can look back upon his classmates, without a most melancholy recollection of brilliant talents, generous affections, and fond hopes, all blasted by the scorching rays of alco. holic excitement ? There now rises before me the image of a once loved classmate, the only son of his mother, the darling child of his father, a venerated clergyman, whose heart swelled with grateful joy at his son's early promise of excellence, but whose gray hairs were brought down in sorrow to the grave. And no near relative remains on earth, to check the freedom of these allusions, or to forbid the tribute which my heart would pay to the memory of one, whose life was as full of instruction to others as of unhappiness to himself.
“When this son of bright promise appeared among us, his pleasantry and social qualities attracted notice and regard, while his courteous manners and superior gifts of elocution gave him consequence with his associates. But his judgment was immature, and failed him most sadly. He it was who broached the idea of a high-go, as being requisite to give us a rank among the classes in college ; and he prevailed upon his classmates, VOL. LX. - No. 126.
generally, to assemble at his room, on a winter's evening, to manufacture the noble article, bringing with them the necessary tools, in the shape of black bottles well filled. The morning's dawn disclosed the glorious result, in broken windows, broken bottles, and — broken character !
“ The charm of a spotless academic reputation was gone from the class. The hero of the scene - but not alone — persisted in his maddening course to its fatal close, in mid-age, fol. lowed by tears, not curses, — this being his one great fault, for which he paid so dear. Naturally of a noble and generous dis. position, and inheriting a liberal patrimony, he made what atonement he could to his Alma Mater, and by his last will enrolled himself among her distinguished benefactors. Peace to his memory! Honored be his virtues, which were all his own. His errors and miseries, and the agonies of hearts most dear him, might have been avoided, had but that benign power, now by the good providence of God made known to us and placed in our hands, been present to protect him in his youthful career. His is but one of a thousand heart-rending tales.
“Who, upon these classic grounds, with such facts before him, would not be tempted to exclaim, in the magnanimous apostolic spirit, If wine make my brother to offend, I will drink no wine while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend !” – Address, pp. 34, 35.
We close our remarks with one additional suggestion. We wish that there were some mode, in which the students of the University could be brought into more intimate social relations with their instructers. We are aware, that some of the ancient barriers between teacher and pupil are removed, nor are we ignorant of the kind and persevering efforts of the present head of the College to introduce the students into social intercourse with the members of the faculty and their families. Yet there still remains too much of mutual distance and reserve. The forth-putting and self-confident among the students may, indeed, cultivate the acquaintance of their teachers, and feel always sure of a kind reception; but ought not the retiring and timid to be sought out, and made to feel that there are those ready and glad to stand to them in loco parentis? In former times, the intercourse between the particular tutor (so called) and the class under his charge partook somewhat of the parental and filial relation. The student felt at liberty to resort to the tutor of his class for special counsel and direction, whenever needed ; and the
tutor often sought other occasions of meeting the individuals of his class than those of set exercises and formal college discipline. Might not an arrangement of this kind, carried out by a more minute subdivision of classes, meet a want, which many parents, that have sons in college, deeply feel, and of which the young men themselves have a vague and dreamy consciousness? According to this plan, there should be assigned to every member of the faculty his quota of students. With them it should be his duty to make himself acquainted, to study their characters, to watch over the formation of their habits, to give them advice on all subjects of importance, as to recreation, reading, and modes of study, and to act as their special moral guardian, in pointing out sources of danger and of evil, and in shewing to his pupils, both by precept and example, the “ more excellent way.” An arrangement like this would supersede in a great degree the severer, sterner portions of college discipline, would strike the axe at the root of reigning evils and abuses, and would go far towards establishing that sacred regard for moral obligation, without which mere literary attainments are empty and worthless.
We have thus passed in review the condition and wants of our University. We have done this in the spirit of sincere reverence and love. It has our warmest wishes, — it has had and shall still have our earnest, however feeble, efforts, for its enlargement and prosperity. We regard it as the chief hope of American scholarship. We forget not its early consecration, “ Christo et Ecclesiæ”; and though, in the present distracted state of the New England church, we wish that there were no theological organization within its walls, we trust that its motto will be verified in all coming time, as it has been in days that are past, by the severe sanctity of manners and morals, and the unfeigned piety of heart, of those who guide its counsels and impart its instructions.
Belto. - Brit.
6 Byron, ART. III. - The Works of LORD BYRON in Verse and
Prose, including his Letters, Journals, fc., with a Sketch of his Life. New York : A. V. Blake. 8vo. 1843.
té The revolution in the character of imaginative literature, which has taken place in the present century, had its most violent and convulsionary manifestation in Lord Byron. In an article on Wordsworth in our last number, we referred to some of the external influences which stimulated the genius of the great poets of the age, and laid particular stress on spiritual philosophy and the French Revolution. These two agencies, of course, were modified by the individual peculiarities of the poets they influenced. Wordsworth, in whose temperament the thoughtful element predominated over the impulsive, impressed on them the qualities of his own nature ; and their effect on him is seen in the preëminence given in his writings to spiritual things and to humanity, to the imagination and the affections. On Byron, whose mind was naturally more under the dominion of sensibility, and rendered almost chaotic by suffering and error, the radical influences flowing from the French Revolution operated with more power, and were controlled by less moral and humane feeling.
Indeed, if any person can be pointed out as the mouthpiece of the harsher revolutionary spirit of his time, it is assuredly Lord Byron. The extraordinary popularity of his poems, and the notoriety of his life, have led to various essays on his character and writings, differing in object and mode of treatment, and all more or less one-sided. Denunciation and panegyric have both been lavished upon his
Those who represent him as a fiend, seizing with a sort of diabolical instinct on all that is bad and impious, and overthrowing with a kind of ferocious energy all that is good and holy, and those who represent him as little less than a saint, seem equally to err; and the error of both arises in a great degree from an attempt to delineate a character which shall be consistent with itself. Byron may almost be said to have had no character at all. Every at'tempt to bring his virtues or his vices within the boundaries of a theory, or to represent his conduct as guided by any