New Englands First Fruits (1643)

[Hugh Peters?], New Englands First Fruits (London, 1643) –

HughPeters

Hugh Peters(1598-1660)

[A fundraising pamphlet directed at English Puritans by friends of the College. The likely author was the Rev. Hugh Peters, who had served as minister in Salem, Massachusetts  (1637-41) and a Harvard overseer before returning to England.  RMc]

 

AFTER GOD HAD carried us safe to New England, and we had built our houses, provided necessaries for our livelihood, reared convenient places for God’s worship, and led the civil government, one of the next things we longed for and looked after was to advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches, when our present ministers shall lie in the dust.

And as we were thinking and consulting how to effect this great work, it pleased God to stir up the heart of one Mr. Harvard (a godly gentleman and a lover of learning, there living among us) to give the one-half of his estate (it being in all about £700) toward the building ing of a college, and all his library. After him, another gave £300; others after them cast in more; and the public hand of the state added the rest.

The college was, by common consent, appointed to be at Cambridge (a place very pleasant and accommodate) and is called (according to the name of the first founder) Harvard College. The edifice is very fair and comely within and without, having in it a spacious hall where they daily meet at commons, lectures, and exercises; and a large library with some books to it, the gifts of diverse of our friends, their chambers and studies also fitted for and possessed by the students, and all other rooms of office necessary and convenient with all needful offices thereto belonging.

And by the side of the college, a fair grammar school, for the training up of young scholars and fitting of them for academical  learning, that still as they are judged ripe they may be received into the college of this school. Master Corlet is the master who has very well approved himself for his abilities, dexterity, and painfulness in teaching and education of the youths under him. Over the college is Master Dunster placed as president, a learned, a conscionable, and industrious man, who has so trained up his pupils in the tongues and arts, and so seasoned them with the principles of divinity and Christianity, that we have to our great comfort (and in truth) beyond our hopes, beheld their progress in learning and godliness also. The former of these has appeared in their public declamations in Latin and Greek, and disputations logic and philosophy which they have been wonted (besides their ordinary exercises in the college hall) in the audience of the magistrates, ministers, and other scholars for the probation of their growth in learning, upon set days, constantly once every month to make and uphold.

 

The latter has been manifested in sundry of them by the savory things of their spirits in their godly conversation; insomuch that we are confident, if these early blossoms may be cherished and warmed with the influence of the friends of learning and lovers of this pious work, they will, by the help of God, come to happy maturity in a short time. Over the college are twelve overseers chosen by the General Court, six of them are of the magistrates, the other six of the ministers, who are to promote the best good of it and (having a power of influence into all persons in it) are to see that every-
one be diligent and proficient in his proper place.

5 Responses to New Englands First Fruits (1643)

  1. Patrick Galarza says:

    “And by the side of the college, a fair grammar school, for the training up of young scholars and fitting of them for academical learning, that still as they are judged ripe they may be received into the college of this school. ”

    Does this passage indicate that students in lower levels of academia that attended the mentioned “grammar school” (high school level or so?) had automatic access to the college? Was this practice of a “lower school” typical of budding colleges?

    Patrick

  2. Andrew Wright says:

    My question is two parts and builds off the first question:

    1. To what extent did fostering a greater sense of community in the New World play into the desire for establishing Harvard College?

    It seems as though most aspects of Harvard would reinforce a strict class distinction and simply provide an outlet for the wealthier students, who could pay tuition, to gain higher education. It also seems to be more or less a pipeline from the local grammar school for new student bodies (“And by the side of the college, a fair grammar school, for the training up of young scholars and fitting of them for academical learning, that still as they are judged ripe they may be received into the college of this school”). Moreover, this pamphlet supports a Dissenter theology, given the reference to God carrying them safe to New England. Not every Dissenter could travel to the New World in the mid-1600s to gain a proper ministerial education, citing the need to tie up affairs in England or possible financial concerns.

    2. With this reinforcement of similar individuals, did higher education, as illustrated by Harvard College, create an immediate socio-economic divide, one which evidently persists today?

    Though I’m leaning towards the likelihood of an exclusive, insular community based on my reading of this pamphlet, it is possible that some were insular while others accepted most students and maintained low tuition rates for men.

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