Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 9.djvu/502

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near Boston. Harvard University at once made a very liberal offer; namely, that if the Methodists chose to establish merely a theological school, and to place the same in Cambridge, it would give them rent free the use of a lot of land for their building, and would permit their students to have access to the great library, and to attend, without expense, fifty courses of lectures. This magnificent offer was foolishly declined, and the Methodists founded, only four miles away, the Boston University—a school for which there was no real demand, and which signified merely sectarian folly. If at that time the Massachusetts Legislature had refused to grant a charter, a good move would have been made. The money bequeathed by Isaac Rich might perhaps have gone to the Wesleyan University at Middletown, making that comparatively weak institution really strong. As it was, the Methodist denomination, with more zeal than discretion, divided its forces in New England, started a college within half a dozen miles of at least three others, and contributed heavily toward the perpetuation of the present vicious policy. Tufts College is another wealthy institution close to Harvard, doing little save to adorn a high hill with brick and mortar, and wholly unable to compete with its great rival. All over the country there are to be found similar examples of what is at once multiplication of means and division of forces. Galesburg, Illinois, has two colleges: one Presbyterian, the other Universalist. Nashville rejoices in four: one Methodist Episcopal, another Methodist Episcopal South, a third for colored people, and the fourth vaguely described as "non-sectarian." This senseless scattering of appliances ought never to have been permitted. The true policy is, to establish great central universities, around which as nuclei the theological schools may cluster. A plan of consolidation among existing colleges would be difficult to carry out, but to some such plan we must eventually look for reform.

Perhaps at some future time it may also become possible to regulate colleges by law, and to compel them to maintain certain standards of scholarship. If a few institutions which are now doing sham work should be summarily deprived of their charters, and so rendered unable to confer degrees, much good would result. No Legislature, however, could as yet be induced to take such a step, even supposing it to be perfectly legal. A policy of this kind must follow after the awakening of public sentiment. But the principle that every institution of learning ought to be what it pretends to be, is unquestionable. No kind of fraud is more objectionable than fraud in education.

As a matter of course, legislation upon the college problem would have to be different in different States. Neither Rhode Island nor New Hampshire need act at all upon the question; but Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, ought to move vigorously. In these and other Western States, especially the States which sustain universities at public expense, a healthy and judicious system of taxation might be desirable.