Colonial Schoolmasters And Scholars
( Originally Published 1907 )
COLONIAL society was not yet democratic. There was much in it that pointed forward to democracy, but the leaders refused to believe the signs. Seventeenth-century America, like seventeenth-century England, presented well-marked social distinctions ; the people constituted a succession of social planes. The highest and the lowest were lacking here, but the several grades of higher and lower were pretty sharply distinguished. The great body of the people were those known as Goodman or Goodwife So-and-so. Below these were common servants ; above were families whose lords were entitled to the designation " Mr." At the top were the magistrates and ministers. The intermediate ranks were carefully graded; and seats were assigned in the meeting house accordingly, one pew being designated as " first in dignety, the next behind it to be 2d in d'anety," and so on Similar distinctions were observed in the colleges. At Yale, the practice of arranging the names of the students in the annual catalogue according to the rank of the parents was not discontinued ti111767 ; and at Harvard not till three years later.
According to Mr. Dexter's interesting monograph on this subject, it appears that the problem of " placing " the several classes was a perplexing one to the college authorities, and became much more so as the eighteenth century advanced. Each class was placed late in the freshman year, and such placing continued unchanged throughout the college course except as students were occasionally degraded by way of punishment for some irregularity or other.
"Contrary perhaps to a prevailing impression, there was never any disposition to exalt the ministerial order above laymen of distinction. . . . Practitioners of medicine had not [by the middle of the eighteenth century] . . . gained a secure position as professional men. . . . The legal profession had gained an earlier and fuller recognition. . . . Next to the three learned professions ought to come that of the teacher; but not so in the regard of these college authorities. . . . Considerations of ancestral distinction, of family estate, of paternal position, and the like, entered into each ease in ever-varying combinations, precluding the possibility of any cut-and-dried system."
In the eighteenth century, wealth came to be a prominent factor in the determining of family rank ; but in the earlier days, particularly in New England, no badge of nobility, other than civil office, was more universally recognized than superior education and ministerial standing. If these re-marks relate more particularly to New England, it will be remembered that in the other colonies also definite gradations of social rank still persisted, and were recognized as a matter of course .
In this state of society, no public secondary school seems to have been even thought of for the great body of citizens — the middle or lower middle class. It was thought desirable that all should know how to read. And a college training was needed by members of the directive class. The secondary school was not a mean between these extremes, but rather an institution subsidiary to the college ; that is, a preparatory school in the narrower sense. Promising youth, whatever their social station, were encouraged to go to school. But their education was preparation for a place in an upper, that is, a ruling or at least a directing, class.
The ecclesiastical origin of our education is recalled by the fact that that portion of the directive class for which the colleges and grammar schools were chiefly intended was the ministry of the churches. The good of the state was thought of in all of these foundations ; but the thought of the church was uppermost, and it is doubtful whether our earlier colleges would have been founded at all, if it had not been for the desire to provide an educated ministry. Closely connected with this desire was the ambition to educate the red natives of the country in the Christian faith — an ambition which appeared in both whimsical and pathetic manifestations.
Some of our novelists, exercising the freedom that belongs to art, have reconstructed the school life of colonial days in a way that historians can only look upon with wonder and great admiration. Mr. Dempster, the Scotch tutor of George and Harry Warrington, and his successor, Mr. Ward, whom Mr. Whitefield had expressly recommended, are as much alive as any colonial schoolmasters yet remaining. Miss Johnston has abundant justification in colonial documents for so villainous a character as Bartholomew Paris, in her story of Audrey. The account of King William's school in Richard Carrel is good enough to be true ; but in it Mr. Churchill has employed his own resources to make good a defect in contemporary records. David Dove, who figures in the early chapters of Hugh Wynne, was an historical character. He held a place of considerable importance among our eighteenth century masters, and possibly deserved gentler treatment than he has received at Dr. Mitchell's hands.
But we are not wholly dependent upon fiction for our view of colonial schools and masters ; and in a few instances even the literary setting-forth of the career of our old-time teachers will stand comparison with the narratives of the novelists.
The schoolmasters of the colonial period may be roughly divided into three classes. There were a few men of scholarly preparation who made teaching the work of their lives, and kept up the best traditions of the free-school masters of Old England — of Mulcaster and Brinsley and Charles Hoole. Then there were young clergymen, and ministers of non-episcopalian denominations, recently from college, who taught school while waiting for a call to the pastoral office. Finally, there was a miscellaneous lot of adventurers, indented servants, educated rogues, and the like, all either mentally or morally incompetent, or both, who taught school only to keep from starving.
The social standing of these masters was variable, being largely determined by their individual character. In so far as their position can be spoken of in general terms, it was probably highest in New England, where we sometimes find them and their wives assigned to very honorable places in the churches. The complaint against the schoolmasters of Maryland as a class has been referred to already. But we find exceptions in plenty both north and south.
The head of our long line of really eminent masters is, beyond question, Ezekiel Cheever, and he is one of those who have been fortunate in having their praises worthily recorded. In his notable address at the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary celebration of the Boston Latin School, Phillips Brooks made Cheever and John Lovell stand respectively for the spirit of the earlier and of the later colonial period. Of these two representative men the first-named was born at London, in 1614. Tradition represents him as having been a pupil at St. Paul's school. He was among the earliest of the New Haven colonists, and began teaching school in the town of New Haven within a few months after his arrival. A dozen years later, he became master of the school at Ipswich ; then of that at Charlestown ; and in 1670 he was called to Boston, and solemnly presented by the governor of the colony with the keys of the Latin School. He was master of this school continuously for thirty-eight years, and died in office at the good old age of ninety-four. He was buried from the schoolhouse ; and Cotton Mather not only preached a sermon but also wrote a poem to his memory.
The poem is no worse than the common run of colonial verse, and certainly no more pedantic than the author's prose. After the inevitable quotation from the Latin, by way of introduction, it begins :
"You that are Men, & Thoughts of Manhood know,
A few passages, some of them well worn by repeated quotation, may be given here. They tell something of Cheever, but more, to be sure, of Cotton Mather :
"A mighty Tribe of Well-instructed Youth
Magister pleas'd them well, because 't was he ;
As to pay Honours to their Master due.
More follows in the same vein ; but the task is too great :
"Ink is too vile a Liquor; Liquid Gold
The learning of the master is extolled :
"Were Grammar quite Extinct, yet at his
Speak the name of Cheever, and Echo will straightway answer, Good Latin. He was a Christian Terence :
"And in our School a Miracle is wrought ;
"His Work he Lov'd: Oh ! had we done the same !
'T is CORLE T'S pains, & CHEEVER'S, we must own,
Due homage is paid to the religious faithfulness of the master, and his instruction in Christian doctrine :
"He taught us Lilly, and he Gospel taught."
There is real eloquence mixed with the petty conceits with which the master's extreme old age is celebrated :
"Come from the Mount, he shone with ancient Grace,
He Liv'd and to vast Age no Illness knew ;
So, Ripe with Age, he does invite the Hook, Which watchful does for its large Harvest look; Death gently cut the Stalk, and kindly laid Him, where our God His Granary has made."
The language of the sermon, and of " An Historical Introduction " printed with it, is of a like tenor : "He died . . In the Ninety Fourth Year of his Age ; after he had been a Skilful, Painful, Faithful Schoolmaster, for Seventy Years; And he had the Singular Favour of Heaven, that tho' he had Usefully spent his Life among Children, yet he was not become Twice a Child." " We generally concur in acknowledging that New-England has never known a better [ school-master]." " It was noted, that when Scholars came to be Admitted into the Colledge, they who came from the Cheeverian Education, were generally the most unexceptionable. What Exception shall be made, Let it fall upon him, that is now speaking of it." "My Master went thro' his Hard Work with so much Delight in it, as a Work for God and Christ, and His People : He so constantly Pray'd with us every Day, and Catechis'd us every Week, and let fall such Holy Counsels upon us ; He took so many Occasions, to make Speeches unto us, that should make us Afraid of Sin, and of incurring the fearful Judgments of God by Sin ; That I do propose him for Imitation." " Out of the School, he was One, Antiqua Fide, priscis moribus ; A Christian of the Old Fashion : An OLD NEW ENGLISH CHRISTIAN: And I may tell you, That was as Venerable a Sight, as the World, since the Days of Primitive Christianity, has ever look'd upon." The master's acquaintance with the body of divinity is mentioned ; and comment on his knowledge of the Scripture prophecies closes with the high praise that he was "A Sober Chiliast ! "
All this is turgid enough, no doubt, but who can read it without some stirring of the heart ? This old schoolmaster served a different age from ours, and one that was already passing away when he died. But he served it faithfully ; and it was no mean age. " He Dyed," the sermon adds, "mourning for the Quick Apostasie, which he saw breaking in upon us." How much of this is Cheever and how much Mather it may be hard to say. He was " very easie about his own Eternal Happiness, but full of Distress for a poor People here under the Displeasure of Heaven, for Former Iniquities, he thought, as well as Later Ones."
Other New England worthies joined in eulogy of the great schoolmaster. Judge Sewall wrote in that remarkable diary, of his professional career, and added, "He has Laboured in that Calling, Skillfully, diligently, constantly, Religiously, Seventy years. A Rare Instance of Piety, Health, Strength, Serviceableness. The Wellfare of the Province was much upon his Spirit. He , abominated Perriwiggs."
Governor Hutchinson spoke of him as " venerable not merely for his great age, 94, but for having been the school-master of most of the principal gentlemen in Boston who were then  upon the stage. He is not the only master who kept his lamp longer lighted than otherwise it would have been, by a supply of oil from his scholars."
Some further understanding of Cheever's character may be gathered from the autobiography of the Rev. John Barnard, who was one of his pupils. Barnard had become the head of his class in the Latin school (about 1692). " Though my master advanced me," he writes, " yet I was a very naughty boy, much given to play, insomuch that he at length openly declared, ` you Barnard, I know you can do well enough if you will, but you are so full of play that you hinder your classmates from getting their lessons ; and therefore, if any of them cannot perform their duty, I shall correct you for it.' " The threat was duly carried out. One boy, out of pure mischief, repeatedly got Barnard into trouble in this way, until, failing of relief from the master, the unfortunate youngster took the case into his own hands, and gave the real culprit such a drubbing that he never came back to school.
We get another glimpse of the master, too good to be lost, in this same autobiography. " I remember once, in making a piece of Latin, my master found fault with the syntax of one word, which was not so used by me heedlessly, but designedly, and therefore I told him there was a plain gram-mar rule for it. He angrily replied, there was no such rule. I took the grammar and showed the rule to him. Then he smilingly said, ` Thou art a brave boy; I had forgot it.' And no wonder; for he was then above eighty years old."
Late in the eighteenth century, President Stiles of Yale College gathered up some fragments of information from an old man, the Rev. Samuel Maxwell, of Warren, Rhode Island, who also had been one of Cheever's pupils. " He told me he well knew the famous Grammar School Master, Mr. Ezekiel Cheever of Boston, Author of the Accidence : that he wore a long white Beard, terminating in a point ; that when he stroked his Beard to the point, it was a sign for the Boys to stand clear."
Phillips Brooks, in the oration already referred to, expressed the wish that, in the absence of any authentic likeness, some artist would do for Ezekiel Cheever what one has already done for John Harvard, so that our thought of him may rest upon some noble expression of his character in stone or bronze.
John Lovell, who was designated by the great preacher as representative of the eighteenth century, was a man of a very different sort. He wore a periwig. He had gone through the regulation paces of the regular Boston boy : through the Latin School, and through Harvard College. His mastership of the Latin School began in 1734 and closed with the outbreak of the Revolutionary War.
It was during this time that the religious revolution wrought by the Great Awakening was preparing the way for political revolution. But John Lovell was of that large number, of comfortable and highly respectable people, who were unmoved by either of these revolutions. He was of that conservatism which, in its effort to make no obeisance to popular tendencies, sometimes leans backward and becomes another sort of radicalism. This spirit was greatly on the increase in the colonies, especially in the more prosperous centers. It was in touch with Augustan England. Sometimes it was fixedly and traditionally orthodox; sometimes it drew near to English deism. In this latter form, it found a counterpart in the Enlightenment of the continent of Europe. On its less noble side, it appeared as a complacent and immovable toryism. John Lovell was a tory of the tories. To the boys he was "Old Gaffer," whatever that may mean.
" Though a severe teacher, yet he was remarkably humorous and an agreeable companion." Such is the description of him that has come down to us. Of the severity there can be little doubt, for it is attested in trembling accents by some of his pupils long after they had grown to man-hood. " Lovell was a tyrant," says one of them, " and his system was one of terror. Trouncing was common in the school. Dr. Cooper was one of his early scholars, and he told Dr. Jackson, the minister of Brookline, that he had dreams of school till he died [I]. The boys were so afraid they could not study. Sam. Bradford, afterward sheriff, pronounced the P in Ptolemy, and the younger Lovell rapped him over the head with a heavy ferule."
This younger Lovell was James, the son of John, who had become assistant to his father in the management of the school. He had a son, also named James, who was a pupil in the school ; and on one occasion grandfather John beat the little James till James the father rose in his place and said, " Sir, you have flogged that boy enough."
It must have been during the short and rare vacations two in the year, at election and commencement times — that John Lovell appeared as the humorous and agreeable companion. On those occasions he went fishing with some of his friends, and the party " passed their time pleasantly in telling funny stories and laughing very loudly." Lovell allowed his best boys to go out into the open, and cultivate his garden for him. James Bowdoin and Harrison Gray Otis received this mark of distinction. They were allowed to laugh as much as they pleased while they tilled. Another school honor was that of sawing the master's wood and bottling his cider. It was enjoyed by those future signers of the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock and Robert Treat Paine and William Hooper.
It would have grieved the master to the heart to know that he was bringing up young men for such rebellion. But James Lovell, the son, was himself an incipient rebel. The father's desk was at one end of the room and the son's at the other, so the tradition goes ; and, facing in opposite directions, one taught the boys the rights of the crown and the other the rights of the people. On the nineteenth of April, 1775, Harrison Gray Otis, on his way to school, was obliged to make a detour to avoid the line of Percy's brigade, drawn up for the march to Lexington. He got into the school-room just in time to hear the words of the master, " War 's begun and school 's done : Deponite libros ; " and then he "ran home for fear of the regulars." The following spring John Lovell, with many another loyalist, sailed off to Halifax, out of respect to Washington's guns new-mounted on Dorchester Heights.
These representative masters were both professional teachers, and each gave long years of service to a single school. The history of the Hopkins school at Hadley shows a different state of affairs. There the teachers were mostly young men just out of college, and on their way to the ministry ; and they commonly remained with the school for one year only, or even for a shorter period.
If we are to judge by the wide educational influence exercised by his disciples, we must count William Tennent the elder as one of our greatest eighteenth-century teachers. We know comparatively little about the actual schooling given in the Log College, or about the characteristics of the master. One who knew him well said of him that he could speak and converse in Latin with almost as much facility as in his mother tongue. He delivered at one time "an elegant Latin oration" before the Synod of Philadelphia. Dr. Alexander adds that his attainments in " science " were thought to be less considerable than his linguistic knowledge.) A young pedler appeared at the College one day and entered into easy conversation, in Latin, with Mr. Tennent. It turned out that this pedler, whose name was Charles Beatty, had received some classical instruction at his home in the north of Ireland before emigrating to America. Mr. Tennent quickly persuaded him to continue his studies at the Log College. In due time he became an able and honored minister, and a trustee of the College of New Jersey.
This is only one instance of Mr. Tennent's success in drawing young men of promise to his school, and then sending them out, on fire with zeal for religion and education, and fairly well prepared to render a good account of themselves. The master was already past middle life when he came to this country ; and his Log College, established about 1726, was in existence hardly more than twenty years. Yet among its alumni were the Rev. Samuel Blair, who established the Fagg's Manor School; the Rev. John Blair, who succeeded his brother, Samuel, in charge of this school, and became a professor at Princeton ; the Rev. Samuel Finley, D.D., who established a school at Nottingham, Maryland, and later became president of the College of New Jersey. Several other notable names might be added to this list ; and if it were made to include those of a second generation — the pupils of Mr. Tennent's pupils—it would show a far-reaching and powerful educational influence.
Much of colonial schooling was got from private teachers who set up in the business on their own account. The advertisements of such schools are common enough in colonial newspapers, and some of them are highly entertaining, being pretentious and bombastic to the last degree. The most of these school adventurers must have been utterly unworthy. The tutors in private families often were no better. It was no uncommon thing for the owner of a plantation to buy a schoolmaster for a term of years from the master of some incoming vessel. But there were many degrees of excellence among these tutors, even such as were redemptioners.
Philip Vickers Fithian, after graduating from the college of New Jersey, became private tutor in the family of Robert Carter of Virginia. His diary and letters give a vivid ac-count of the school life on one of the best of the Virginia plantations. " I observe," he says, "that . . . it has been the custom heretofore to have all their Tutors, and School-masters from Scotland, tho' they begin to be willing to em-ploy their own countrymen."
Clergymen in many instances undertook, in addition to their ordinary duties, the instruction of a few boys, who were received into the pastor's family and given such special attention as the circumstances permitted. Jonathan Boucher is a notable example. He was considered one of the best preachers of his time in the Church of England. At the age of twenty-one, he went from his English home to Virginia as tutor in a private family. He continued for some years in this occupation, evidently making for himself a good reputation. Then he resolved to take orders, and accordingly returned to England, where he was ordained by the Bishop of London in 1762. Returning to America, he became successively rector of two or three parishes in Virginia, and finally of St. Anne's at Annapolis. According to his report, Annapolis was at that time " the genteelest town in North America." During his Virginia pastorates, he had nearly thirty boys at a time under his personal instruction. He continued his teaching after his removal to Annapolis, and John Parke Custis, the stepson of Washington, was among the pupils who went with him to his new field. An interesting correspondence passed between Boucher and Washington with reference to the education of this boy.
Young Custis was fourteen years old when Washington applied to Boucher to receive him. He had been reading Vergil two years, and had made a beginning in the Greek Testament. He was untainted in morals and manners ; and since he would inherit a large fortune, Washington was desirous of making him " fit for more useful purposes than Horse Racer." Boucher himself delighted in horse racing, but still more he delighted in literary pursuits. A theatre was built at Annapolis during his residence in the town, and he distinguished himself by writing some verses about one of the actresses, as well as a prologue or two. He wrote also a petition in verse in behalf of the old church, which was well received. And he was president of the Homony Club, which was composed of a few social and literary men, and was intended to promote genial fellowship.
He lamented in a letter to Washington that, though he had been teaching upwards of seven years, he could not boast of having brought up a single scholar. Washington was requested to look among his books for a copy of Cicero's De ofciis, or epistles, and of Livy, doubtless for the use of the boy. Jacky was not distinguished for scholarship. He seems to have been a lovable youngster, but so susceptible to the influence of his companions as to cause no small amount of anxiety. Boucher believed that life in the school would be good for him, as enabling him to add some of the wisdom of the serpent to the harmlessness of the dove. At one time arrangements were making to send him to Europe for the advantage of travel with his tutor ; and Boucher laid before Washington his ideas of the usefulness of an acquaintance with foreign countries.
When the boy had been with Boucher for three years, Washington intimated to the rector that no great progress had been made in his studies. Boucher replied that he now understood the principles of what he had previously acquired by rote ; but added that " there is a Deal of Difference to be observed in ye Educate a Gentleman, & a mere scholar." At this time the boy had begun arithmetic over again, and was about to enter upon the study of French. Dr. Witherspoon i had said that he ought to have been put into Greek. Boucher admitted that he had himself somewhat neglected his duty as tutor, but added the retort that he had given his pupil the training suited to a gentleman, rather than that of a pedant or schoolmaster. It was decided that the boy should go to college. There was a conference on this subject, and the merits and demerits of the colonial institutions were discussed in all frankness, with the result that Jack was sent to King's College in New York.
Boucher seems to have been admitted to intimate relations with the Washingtons. But with increasing estrangement between the colonies and the mother country, their friend-ship cooled ; for Boucher was an uncompromising loyalist, and spoke up fearlessly against the rebellious proceedings of the colonies. His last sermon at Annapolis was preached with pistols on his pulpit cushion, and closed with the words, " As long as I live, yea, while I have my being, will I proclaim God save the King." He returned to England in the fall of 1775, but before leaving America he wrote a scathing letter to Washington, in which he charged the Virginian, not with sharing in the persecution of himself, to be sure, but with having failed to lift a manly voice against such persecution.
We find in this schoolmaster-clergyman a representative of the better tory element, which was driven from this country along with so much that was unworthy. In England he was given a vicarage, which he retained till his death in 1804. He was held in much esteem, not only as a preacher, but also because of his literary, and particularly his philological distinction. A poetical epistle, addressed to him on his return from America, was published. He prepared a Glossary of archaic and provincial words, which was intended as a supplement to Johnson's dictionary.' But of especial importance from an American point of view was the publication of thirteen of his American discourses, under the title, A view of the causes and consequences of the American Revolution. This volume was issued in 1797, and, curiously enough, was dedicated to George Washington.
It must not be presumed that our schoolmasters of the time just previous to the Revolution were all tories. Indeed, there were among them some of the most ardent advocates of the American cause. Philip Fithian was one of these. He became a chaplain in the Continental army and died in the service. Dr. Joseph Warren, who was killed at the battle of Bunker Hill, had been master of the Roxbury Grammar School. And Nathan Hale, " the Martyr Spy," gave up his school at New London, Connecticut, to enlist in the American army, at the first news of the battle of Lexington.
These men were among the most lovable and beloved of our early patriots, and their memory should be cherished in our school traditions. Dr. Eneas Munson of New Haven said of Nathan Hale:
" He was almost six feet in height, perfectly proportioned, and in figure and deportment he was the most manly man I have ever met. His chest was broad ; his muscles were firm ; his face wore a most benign expression ; his complexion was roseate ; his hair was soft and light-brown in color, and his speech was rather low, sweet, and musical. His personal beauty and grace of manner were most charming. Why, all the girls in New Haven fell in love with him, and wept tears of real sorrow when they heard of his sad fate. In dress he was always neat ; he was quick to lend a helping hand to a being in distress, brute or human ; was overflowing with good humor, and was the idol of all his acquaintances."
A brief note relating to Hale's characteristics as a teacher has come down to us from Samuel Green, one of his pupils at New London :
" His manners were engaging and genteel ; his scholars all loved him. While he was not severe, there was something determined in the man, which gave him a control of the boys that was remark-able. He had a way of imparting his views to others in a simple, natural method, without ostentation or egotism, which is a rare gift."
The pay of colonial schoolmasters can be adequately considered only in a comprehensive view of colonial wages, currency, and prices. This is too large a subject to be treated here ; but the story of colonial schools ought not to be left without some notes upon it. In the seventeenth century, the salary of the masters of grammar schools commonly ranged from twenty to sixty pounds per annum. Twenty pounds is so frequently mentioned, that it may almost be regarded as the standard, or perhaps the minimum rate, especially in the earliest times. The fees of the pupils were sometimes additional to the salary fixed by the school authorities, but more frequently included in it. Some mention is made, also, of gifts which the master might fairly expect from his pupils. For these there was abundant English precedent. Of more importance was the fact that a dwelling house was commonly provided for the master, with a garden plot, and sometimes a larger piece of land. This was additional to his regular stipend. In the eighteenth century, we find salaries mounting sometimes to one hundred pounds a year.
Gold and silver were scarce in the colonies, and in the earlier days the master was often paid " in kind." Mr. Dillaway, in his history of the Roxbury Grammar School, presents a facsimile of the "covenant" entered into by the feoffees of that school, in February, 1668-9, with John Prudden, schoolmaster. This master was employed to instruct the children of the "Donors" for one full year "in all scholasticall, morall, and theologicall discipline,"
In consideration whereof ye aforesayd feoffees (not enjoyning nor leting ye said Prudden from teaching any other children, provided ye number thereof doe not hinder ye profiting of the fore-named youth) do promise and engage (for the due recompence of his labour) to allow ye said John Prudden ye full and just summe of twenty-five pounds : ye one halfe to be payed on ye 29 of September next ensuing ye date hereof, and the other halfe on the 25 of March next ensuing, i.e., in ye year (70), ye said £25 to be payed by William Park and Robert Williams, their heirs and administrators at ye upper-mills in Roxberry, three quarters in Indian Coyne or Peas and ye other fourth part in Barley, all good and merchandable, at price currant in ye countrey rate, at ye days of payment."
Until 1709, the yearly salary of the teachers of the Had-ley school, already mentioned, was from £30 to £40, payable in produce. After that date, payment was made in province bills, beginning at £26 per annum, and increasing to £40 as the money depreciated in value. Out of this salary the young schoolmaster paid his board, which cost him from 4s. 8d. to 5s. a week when his salary was about £40, and 3s. 6d. to 3s. 9d. when the salary was £30 or less. It is estimated that, after deducting the cost of this item, there remained a clear yearly income equivalent to from sixty to seventy dollars, counting six shillings to the dollar. The neighboring town of Northampton paid the masters of her grammar school, all educated men, the equivalent of eighty dollars a year and board, down to the time of the Revolution.
An interesting excerpt from the town records of Hadley is given in the volume on The Hopkins fund, grammar school and academy in Hadley :
"Jan. 22, 1677. Voted by the town that Mr. Younglove shall have for his teaching school the next year the use of the House and Homestead belonging to the school with twelve Akars of land given by John Barnard and thirty pounds besides which shall be raised by the remainder of the school land the scollards and the Towne.
" Voted by the Towne that for the year ensuing all male children ffrom six years ould to twelve shall be compellable to pay to the scoole such as goe after tenn shillings by the year and they that goe not five shillings by the year and all others above the age ex-pressed that are found Illiterate and goe not to paie ffive Shillings by the year, this order to begin its date May 1st next ensuing."
In the larger schools, the master was sometimes obliged to employ an assistant, or " usher," at his own expense. But this burden came to be borne in the same manner as the support of the master himself. The authorities were doubt-less glad to see their school prosper, and unwilling to allow the teacher to be burdened with such expense because of his success in attracting pupils.
The number of pupils in these schools varied greatly. Agidius Luyck had made a marked success of the school at New Amsterdam when he was able to show an attendance of twenty. One hundred was no uncommon number in the Boston Latin School near the beginning of the eighteenth century. Near the middle of that century, Josiah Pierce was teaching the Hopkins Grammar School at Hadley with all the way from five to thirty pupils in attendance. He complained that the most of the parents let their children play about the streets rather than send them to school.
The enumeration of pupils in the Roxbury school for the year 1770 is suggestive. It is given as follows :
The schools were attended by boys only, and these came for the most part from the more prosperous families and those highest in social distinction. But this remark must be taken with many qualifications. Men of wealth, especially at the south, often employed private tutors, as we have seen, instead of sending their boys to a public school. On the other hand, much care was taken to give promising sons of poor parents a chance. There was no portion of the community that held learning in greater esteem than those families in which it was out of the question to send the whole troop of sons to a higher school, and one was elected to this distinction as representative of all.
The chosen son was sent to school as one dedicated to the service of God. There was a thought of old Hebrew precedents. Sometimes the eldest was taken, because Jehovah had claimed all first-born of men and of animals as peculiarly his own. Or if the eldest were a dullard or otherwise unworthy, another went in his stead, as the birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph, in place of Reuben. Some-times, too, in the large families of that day, the one dedicated was given on the principle of the tithe. So the father of Benjamin Franklin set apart the young Benjamin for the ministry, and sent him to the Latin school, as the tenth of his sons.
The selective process was only begun when the boy was sent to the grammar school. The more competent masters were mighty winnowers, who rendered the community a noble service in finding possible scholars, and sending them on toward higher things. Ian Maclaren has told us how it was done in Scotland, in his tale of the old Dominie who "had an unerring scent for ` pairts ' in his laddies." " It was Latin Domsie hunted for as for fine gold, and when he found the smack of it in a lad he rejoiced openly. He counted it a day in his life when he knew certainly that he had hit on another scholar." New England was in many ways like Scotland ; and Scotch masters became plentiful in our middle and southern colonies. It was no less true here than in Drumtochty that when such a boy had been discovered "his brothers and sisters would give their wages, and the family would live on skim milk and oat cake [or their colonial equivalents] to let him have his chance."