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that they could read any classical author into English and readily make and speak true Latin, and write it in verse as well as in prose, and perfectly decline the paradigms of nouns and verbs in the Greek tongue, they were judged capable of admission to Harvard College.'* This standard of “admission” speaks well for the early scholarship of the college as well as of its preparatory schools. It may be doubted whether the standard of classical attainments, on the whole, was not higher then at Harvard than it has been in any American college since.
It is certain that good scholars of that day could both make and speak“ true Latin,” the language which learned men of the time used with the ease and fluency of their own vernacular. The first civilians and ministers of New England, the Winthrops and Winslow, Robinson, Cotton, Ward, Rogers, and Chauncey, were excellent scholars and some of them authors of distinguished repute. Norton, Shephard, Eliot, and Symmes, were graduates of Cambridge, and Davenport of Oxford; and most of them were the contemporaries of John Milton, the great classic scholar of his own century and the great poet of all the centuries. At no period before or since, in the history of English literature, were the ancient classics more eagerly or extensively studied than in the days of the Puritan emigration to America. The great questions of controversy in ecclesiastical and civil affairs were discussed by the master-minds of the time in the Latin tongue, as for instance the conflict of Milton with Salmasius,
In liberty's defense, a noble task,
Of which all Europe rang from side to side. Those great men wrote in Latin, not for a few. scholars only but that all the thinking, well educated men of the world might read and understand.
In the great strifes of the first and second English revolution, no class of men in Christendom were more interested than were the early colonists of New England. When we read, then, of their anxious fears, lest the learning, which the first generation of scholars brought with them to these shores, should be buried with them in their own graves, we may better understand what that learning was they prized so much, when we know the uses to which it was applied in their own times, and why they deemed it so essential that that same learning should live after them in all ages of the future.
The dread of the early Puritans as to the decline of learning in the colonies came near to actual realization, notwithstanding their
* Mather's Magnalio, Vol. 2d, Book IV. 4.
earnest attempts to prevent this calamity. For nearly three generations one college only could be sustained, and this was chiefly through the legacy of the Rev. John Harvard, who died soon after his arrival from England, where he had not long before graduated at Emanuel College in Cambridge. When Yale was founded in 1700 its chief benefactor was Gov. Yale, who was a resident of London and acquired his fortune in India during his administration as Governor of the East India Company. So, too, when Dartmouth was founded near the era of the Revolution its chief patron was an English nobleman. If, then, the colleges of the colonial period of our history were able to live only by benefactions which came chiefly from a foreign land, how could it be expected that the grammar schools could retain the rank they might have had under Master Cheever and other teachers of the first generation ?
Perhaps no greater efforts were made to sustain a good "grammar school" or "free" school, in which "Latin, Greek, and Hebrew” were taught so as to fit young men for “ye universitie,” than in the colony of New Haven, which, in point of wealth, was equal at least to any other in New England. Rev. John Davenport, minister of New Haven, “ the prince of preachers and fit to be a preacher to princes,” was unremitting in his labors to establish “a free” school, for the support of which “ the town paid twenty pounds a year to Mr. Ezekiel Cheever for two or three years at first, but in August, 1644, it was enlarged to thirty pounds a year and so continueth.” Master Cheever was one of the first emigrants to New Haven, where he began his long service as a grammar school teacher in 1638, in which he continued for nearly seventy years, ending his career as the master of the Latin School in Boston, where he died in 1708. He used his own “ Latin Accidence" for successive generations, and long after his death it was the only "text-book" for Latin beginners in New England.*
When Master Cheever left New Haven in 1649 to go to Ipswich, the grammar school declined and although every effort was made to retrieve its fortunes, it never regained its earliest renown under its first and most famous teacher.
Not long afterwards Mr. Davenport tried " to settle at New Haven a small colledg such as the day of small things will permitt," but for that measure the fullness of time had not yet come. Having urged in vain the leading towns of the colony to maintain each a grammar school of their own, he then planned “a colony school” for the entire jurisdiction. But this, after two years, was "laid down” and never taken up again.
* Cheever and the Early Free Grammar Schools of New England, I, 297; XVI, 102.
It was at this time of greatest discouragement that the donations of Governor Hopkins were made for the endowment of classical schools in Hartford, New Haven, Hadley, and Cambridge. No benefaction for a good cause was ever more opportunely given. The “true intent" of his legacy was well expressed in the words of his will “ to give encouragement in those foreign plantations for the breeding up of hopeful youths, both at the grammar school and college, for the public service of the country in future times.” It was well that the avails of the Hopkins' donations accrued chiefly to the benefit of the grammar schools, which received his endowments. It thus became possible for a classic school, formed after the English grammar school, to be planted on American soil and to take deep root, nourished, as the English schools were, with ample endowments, and to bear fruit perennially to the latest generations. Whatever fate might befall the grammar schools of other towns planted by the Puritans, it was a consolation to Davenport and his fellow-trustees of the Hopkins' endowments, that one school, at least, in each of the leading colonies, could be maintained, in which “the three languages, Lattine, Greeke, and Hebrew, might be taught soe far as was necessary to prepare youth for colledge.” Though the Hopkins' donations made it possible to establish grammar schools at a few important localities, yet classic culture did not readily thrive, and those precious funds were in danger of perversion even in New Haven, under the trusteeship of Davenport, who was the only man that could have saved them. For the people were so poor even in that colony, which was more wealthy than the others, and the public mind was so distracted by the political questions resulting in the union of New Haven Colony with Connecticut, that but little attention was given to the interests of education for the time. Hence, public sentiment at first tolerated the use of the funds for an English school. Indeed, teachers of the classics were so scarce that no fit master could be found except for an English school and hardly for that. “ The fittest that could be found was George Pardee, who was willing to do what he was able, but told the town frankly that he had lost much of what learning he formerly attained.” He however “undertook to teach Englishe and to carry on the scholars in Lattine as far as he could; also to learn them to write." It was then that Mr. Davenport performed “one of the last and most useful public services” to the town of New Haven, by protesting, as he was required to do according to the “will of the dead,” against the longer misapplication of the avails of the Hopkins' fund contrary to the intent of the donor, and declared it to be his purpose to transfer the fund to some other town if the use of it was not made for a proper grammar school. This intimidation had the desired effect; and as soon as possible the school was established according to the true intent of its founder. “The advantage of this single effort in favor of liberal education," says Prof. Kingsley,* “can not be easily estimated.” One of its results was the great number of young men sent to Harvard College from the single town of New Haven, being one in thirty of all the graduates of that college prior to 1700, and that, too, from a town not having more than five hundred inhabitants at any time during that period.
The endowments at Hartford and Hadley were far less fortunate The people of those towns used those funds for a long period to maintain schools of no higher grade than a common English school. “The Hopkins School at Hartford seems to have been the only public school of any sort for the first century of its existence.”+ In 1797 the town of Hartford sought a charter of incorporation and surrendered its control of the Hopkins' fund to a self-perpetuative board of trustees, under whose management the funds were greatly increased and a classical school of a high order was maintained on the ancient foundation according to the will of the donor. So, too, the Hadley Grammar School became an Academy after the town had controlled and perverted the use of the Hopkins' fund from 1669 to 1816. Under the new organization a contest soon arose between the town and the Academy, which at last was decided by the Supreme Court of Massachusetts in 1833, when Judge Shaw held that the devise of Gov. Hopkins was made, not for founding a town school for the exclusive benefit of the inhabitants of Hadley only, but for all the persons in that (then) newly settled part of the country who desired to avail themselves of a grammar school adapted to instruct and qualify pupils for the University. "I
If one of our distinguished divines has said that “barbarism is the first danger” of modern civilization in America, it was surely a fearful peril when Hopkins and Davenport tried to withstand it. It was their glory that they laid the foundations of the State aright. They could not be expected to do much more than this, which was their destined work. The day of small things, as they called their own cherished plans and institutions, was really a day of great events in their relations to the distant future. They earnestly labored to prevent the decline of learning which continued till after the Revolution. But they could not build up vigorous institutions of liberal culture in the wilderness in a single generation, such as Europe possessed as the fruit of centuries of civilization. They had only one learned profession, that of Divinity, and chiefly for the sake of this, Harvard and Yale were founded.
* See Kingsley's Historical Discourse, page 92.
See Rev. L. W. Bacon's Address at the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the Hopkins Grammar School at New Haven, page 65. (Mr. Bacon is mistaken as to his surmise of there having been no other school at Hartford.
H. B.) See L. W. Bacon's Address, page 65.
The profession of the teacher was indeed recognized in the first generation as a distinct calling, and had been so regarded time out of mind in the fatherland. But the early graduates of Harvard and Yale, who could have been the successors of Cheever, found “his occupation gone,” and thus they were forced to enter the ministry as their only vocation. Fortunately, the duty of teaching the classics was regarded as one of their proper functions, and as the ministers were the only class in the community who had leisure for study and books, there were found a few in every generation who guarded well this precious trust of cducation, and furnished in this way most of the candidates for admission to college and thus their own profession was preserved. And yet in this profession the standard of classical attainments was lamentably low even so late as the beginning of the present century.* Most abundant evidence of this fact appears in the history of education as published on the pages of this Journal.
Near the middle of the last century there were indications of the coming of a better day. Here and there were persons found, of broad and comprehensive culture, who were in correspondence and close sympathy with the leading minds of the fatherland, and who fully realized the transcendent value of the long-established seats of good learning there. On the other hand, such men as Doddridge and Watts and Bishop Berkley were deeply interested in the intellectual advancement of the American colonies, as is proved by their benefactions to Harvard and Yale.
In 1746, Samuel Moody graduated at Harvard College and com menced his career as a classical teacher in the York Grammar School in the province of Maine. Since the days of Cheever, who had then been dead nearly forty years, no teacher had appeared of equal celebrity. The school he taught was the only public school in town, yet he made it famous as the resort of scholars who afterwards became distinguished. One of the number was Joseph Wil
* See a letter of the late Judge Story, in the memoirs of Dr. Channing, relating to the studies of Harvard College during the times when thoso eminent men were undergruduates