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The president was the Rev. Thomas Clap, then (in 1752) in his 50th year and just half way through his long term of office. He was a really great man in the breadth and sagacity of his plans for the college, and we have not yet outgrown the impress of his molding hand. Yet in his relations with the students he can hardly be described as successful, and later in his career an element of rebellion and direct personal defiance brought about his melancholy exit. An entry from the faculty judgments of January, 1764, which was after a separate chapel, later known as the Athenaeum, had been built, gives an example of his trials: "Whereas it appears that on the evening of the Sabbath of the 15th instant White Tertius stood up and profanely mimicked the president at prayers.
It is ordered that the said White shall set up gallery some considerable time after the rest who have been ordered to set there with him may have liberty to set below."
The mention of the library in the old college raises the question how much that solid collection of towards 3,000 volumes touched the student life of that day. But in general it must be acknowledged that the books there gathered were beyond the needs of most undergraduates.
A stray record is preserved of the loans made by the president as acting librarian during two or three years just before Connecticut Hall was finished; from which it would appear that the library was mainly made use of by graduate students. Indeed the only exceptions that I notice on these lists are when a senior borrows a volume of Pope's Homer and one of that sound commentator, Matthew Henry's "Exposition of the Old and New Testament," and a junior borrows Clarendon's "History of the Rebellion,” in three ponderous folios.
The first contribution toward Connecticut Hall had come from a public lottery, and it should not be surprising that lotteries as an amusement came to be so much the rage among the students that they had to be checked by authority. The old records give some particulars of these ventures, in a few of which it is evident from the nature of the prizes that the pleasure of the sport lay rather in the excitement of the struggle than
in the reward to be gained. Thus, in 1763, a successful lottery, in which the participants were disciplined, had as prizes Pope's Homer's Iliad, seven volumes of “Voyages,” Bayley's Dictionary and two copies of "Virgil," and another still more surprising case of the same date was where five tickets at three and ninepence each were sold for the privilege of drawing Wilson's “Trigonometry," Cicero's "Orations," and "The Complete Letter Writer.” One cannot avoid the suspicion that the game was utilized as a convenient means for disposing of somebody's old text-books, while it also gratified the passion for gambling.
The social life of the students also included some privileges now lost, such as ball playing on the public green and some gala occasions of special censure. Here, for instance, is a memorandum from the faculty judgments of January, 1756:
“Whereas it appears that a play was acted at the house of William Lyon (a tavern-keeper on State street), on the evenings after the 2d, 6th, 7th and 8th days of January instant, and that all the students (excepting some few) were present at one or other of those times, and many of them continued there until after 9 of the clock, and had a large quantity of wine, and sundry people of the town were also present. And whereas this practice is of a very pernicious nature, tending to corrupt the morals of this seminary of religion and learning, and of mankind in general, and to the mispence of precious time and money."
Accordingly, those present were fined eight pence, and the actors, who were all students, the most notable being Silas Deane, the diplomatist of the Revolution, three shillings each.
You may have noticed that a special grievance is here made of the fact that "people of the town were also present”; reminding us that the barriers then existing between town and gown were vigorously upheld. But collisions now and then occurred in the streets, in regard to which the college authorities took the ground that students should be above such riotous action, and should set a better example. “Town and gown,” by the way, was not a mere fashion of speech, as the college law which required all the scholars to wear their gowns and hats, caps or wigs outside of their rooms was supposed to be rigidly insisted on.
I regret to say that we get not infrequent glimpses of a different point of contact between the young gentlemen of Connecticut Hall and their less cultured neighbors; as, for instance, when a party of five sophomores and freshmen in 1764 was found guilty of having stolen eight hens, of the value of one shilling each, out of Widow Brocket's henhouse, and taken them to one of their rooms in Connecticut Hall, and there after having plucked and cooked them) were found in the act of eating them.
As for the relations of the students with each other in their social and oratorical clubs, there is rather a lack of detail. No doubt such clubs existed in every college generation, but they usually lacked a power of continuance, until finally, just after the first occupation of Connecticut Hall, the Linonian society was started, as was the Brothers in Unity fifteen years later, of which the names remain to our own times. The regular meetings were of course held in the students' own rooms, which prevented strict privacy; but on special occasions, like the anniversaries, recourse was had to a public house, where some sort of dramatic entertainment could be attempted. The ordinary exercises included something in the way of orations and dialogues; and during one period in the early history of the Linonian society a special form of intellectual diversion was current, whereby at each meeting one member, in alphabetical order, should, instead of making a speech, propose a question, to go upon record, with the appropriate answer. The existing minutes preserve a series of these themes and so give a curious insight into the mental operations of college youth of that day. Many, perhaps most, of the questions were prompted by the studies of the curriculum and suggest how limited was the range of interests before the daily newspaper as we know it existed. Here are some specimens: At what time did the Latin language arrive to the greatest perfection in the city of Rome? How is the greatest common measure discovered in algebraick quantities? Why is the weather coldest when the sun is nearest to
What thing is the most delightful to man in the world? Aeneas and Dido, in what time did they live?
Can we fancy our college friends of this day interested in propounding and answering inquiries of such a sort?
The provision of the college laws that “every student shall in his ordinary discourse speak in the Latin tongue," was in the earlier days, I suppose, observed after a fashion on occasion, but by the time we are concerned with it had come to be a counsel of perfection, which no one pretended to live up to; and in its best estate it can have been only an excuse for the manufacture of incredibly bad Latin.
In general, my conception of the little community of that epoch—varying in size from 90 members to nearly twice that number-represents it as substantially homogeneous, living in the main a separate cloistered life, with few great excitements and little knowledge of the world outside, not excessively studious nor remarkably quiet, but reasonably responsive to the appeals of conscience and appreciative of the gaieties of life. In proportion to their means, they were, I am inclined to think, as lavish in personal expenditure and as ready for combined extravagance as any generation since. There was always a considerable group of candidates for the ministry who had chosen their vocation at a somewhat advanced age, and thus contributed a more settled and sober element; yet even with this makeweight the community abounded in liveliness.
With our different habits we may imagine their life uncouth and barbarous; but we need not waste our pity. To them it was a life of breadth and freedom and stimulus, compared with that in the ordinary New England village of their earlier years; and the college brotherhood, then even more than now, found in itself a zest and a capacity for enjoyment beyond the reach or perhaps the comprehension of maturer years.
MERIDEN AND WALLINGFORD IN COLONIAL
AND REVOLUTIONARY DAYS.
BY GEORGE MUNSON CURTIS, Esq.
[Read October 21, 1902; Rewritten 1907.]
The territory of Wallingford, called by the Indians "Coginchauge,"* originally included a large part of what is now Meriden and Cheshire, and was mostly embraced in the purchases by the colony of New Haven of Montowese, in 1638 and 1645.
It is doubtful if any other two towns in the colony were more closely joined by the ties of kinship and business than were New Haven and Wallingford for many years after the settlement of the latter place in 1670. All who signed the plantation agreement in 1669 were New Haven men, with the exception of three, and the Quinnipiac river was long used as an easy and convenient way to carry timber to and bring supplies from the seaport town.
The closeness of the ties was recognized by the colony when the boundaries of the new town were assigned by a vote of the General Court of Connecticut, for the following condition was added : “provided that the sayd village be carryed on and made a plantation wthout any relation or subordination to any other town," and the proposed name of New Haven village was changed to Wallingford.
The Rev. Samuel Street was the first minister and he was succeeded by Rev. Samuel Whittlesey, in 1717.
The most noteworthy event in the history of Wallingford in the eighteenth century was the religious controversy which arose
* American Gazetteer, by Jedidiah Morse, 1797.