Sunday, August 25, 2019
The Lads of 1830
I would here call the reader's attention to a page of the Harvard Catalogue for 1830-1831. My copy is unbound, but even when bound, this volume of thirty-one small pages would still be portable. It sets forth the course of instruction for Freshmen, Sophomores, Junior Sophisters, and Senior Sophisters. The programme is founded on the literatures of Greece and Rome, and many of the authors are listed. But there are also mathematics through calculus, general history and ancient history, with "Greek antiquities," Grotius, De Veritate Religionis Christianae, English grammar, rhetoric and composition, with themes, forensics, and oratory, modern languages, logic, philosophy and theology, natural philosophy, including mechanics, chemistry, electricity and magnetism, with "experimental lectures" — all this by the end of the Junior year. The great feature of the Senior year is that no Classical literature is prescribed; the ancient authors have been transcended for the higher learning — natural philosophy, including astronomy, optics, mineralogy, and the philosophy of natural history, also intellectual and moral philosophy, and theology both natural and revealed. Modern languages are still pursued, themes and forensics are still required. Finally, we note political economy, anatomy, and Rawle "On the Constitution of the United States."I can't find a copy of the 1830-1831 Harvard course catalogue, but cf. Report of the President of Harvard University, Submitting for Consideration a General Plan of Studies, Conformably to a Vote of the Board of Overseers of That Seminary, Passed February 4, 1830 (Cambridge: E.W. Metcalf and Company, 1830).
This is a humanistic programme, reaching to the upper heights of thought and concentrated on the present time. It were ridiculous to suppose that all of these subjects were pursued as thoroughly as they are in colleges to-day. It were also ridiculous to suppose that we could probably reintroduce such a programme in all its parts. Yet I venture to think that the lads of 1830 had their minds touched at more points, and with more points, than our undergraduates to-day.
Edward Kennard Rand is my Doktorgrossvater.
Hat tip: Marc Addington.