Front Page Titles (by Subject) GALLATIN TO JOSIAH QUINCY. - The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2
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GALLATIN TO JOSIAH QUINCY. - Albert Gallatin, The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2 
The Writings of Albert Gallatin, ed. Henry Adams (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1879). 3 vols.
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GALLATIN TO JOSIAH QUINCY.
New York, 9th December, 1830.
I had the honor to receive your letter of 29th ult., to which the necessity of employing the whole of my time in correcting a work for the press has prevented an immediate answer. The sketch of my observations on the subject of an English college, before the late literary convention, is extremely incorrect, and in some respects perfect nonsense. I did not think it worth my while to disavow it, as a work is now in the press (not at all that above alluded to) intended to contain the speeches delivered on that occasion, and the editor afforded me the opportunity of correcting mine. As I had spoken without notes or preparation, I was obliged to recur to the sketch in the newspapers as a kind of text, and I fear, though having kept no copy I cannot positively say, that I may have suffered the word “honorable,” which I did not use, to remain as an epithet to “dismission.” With that exception, that work will be found to contain faithfully the substance of what I said. In the mean while I will, from memory, state the facts as correctly as I can.
On the first or second day of the convention the question was discussed, how far it might be beneficial and practicable to allow generally students who were considerably in advance of the rest of the class to pass into a higher one without waiting the end of the scholastic year. It was in reference to that question that the president of the meeting,—Mr. Bates, of Vermont,—after having stated some of the practical difficulties which would occur in the execution of that plan, mentioned the attempt that had been made at the Harvard University to subdivide the Freshmen class into sections according to their acquirements, the dissatisfaction which it had caused, and that the plan was abandoned. In the course of his observations he stated, as I understood him, that some of the students, either withdrawn by their parents or applying for dismission, had said, with tears in their eyes, that they saw that they had mistaken their rate of talents, and that the time they had employed in their preparatory studies was lost to them. Mr. Bates made no application of this, nor any allusion whatever to the study of the dead languages.
On the ensuing evening, wishing to bring some definite question before the meeting more intimately connected with our projected university than had been done, and particularly one embracing the difficulty of embracing and connecting together, as is intended, the study of sciences and letters carried to a higher extent than is usual in the colleges of this part of the country, with popular and general education fitted for men not designed for the liberal professions, I submitted the propriety of an English college to be attached to the university as a kind of preparatory school. As proposed by me at that time, it was to be at the same time a classical college, in which the study of the learned languages kept distinct was not to be obligatory. I have seen reasons sufficient to convince me that this mixture of young men pursuing different studies and with different objects in view would be attended with serious inconveniences, and that it would be preferable to keep the subjects distinct, not to interfere with the classical seminaries of learning as they now exist, and to make the proposition for a purely English college, in which all the branches, with the exception of the learned languages, should be taught that are usually learned in our present colleges, a separate question. In that shape it is now under the consideration of the council of our intended university.
One of my principal arguments was that, with very few exceptions in some of our cities, all our best high schools or academies, being chiefly intended to prepare boys for admission in our colleges, were in fact Latin grammar schools, in which little else was taught; that parents who did not design their children for the liberal professions had no choice and must send them to such academies; that I considered the time employed on the study of the learned languages by those who did not enter our present colleges or otherwise pursue their studies as lost to them, or at least of comparative inutility; that, with respect to them, that time would be far more advantageously employed in acquiring other knowledge useful in an active life; and that a college such as I proposed, and connected as it would soon be with corresponding preparatory schools, would satisfy the wants of a great portion of the community, and also effect the avowed object of rendering the road to science generally more accessible. It was in order to sustain my assertion that the time now consumed by boys not destined for our usual colleges on the study of the learned languages was lost to them, that I appealed to the fact which had been mentioned by Mr. Bates; and I added, not as a fact, but as an inference of mine, that the reason why those boys considered the time employed in their preparatory studies as a lost time was because those studies had consisted principally of Latin and Greek, which, unless they pursued them farther, were of no use to them.
Having but little experience in education, and no pretension whatever to profound learning, I did not take a part in the preceding discussion respecting the mode of tuition, and do not entertain the slightest hope of being able to suggest any improvement in that respect. My only object is what it professes to be, that of extending and improving English or popular education, so as to diffuse more widely than is done at present, amongst all those who are not destined for the liberal professions, some share of elementary mathematical, natural, and historical knowledge, as well as that of their own language and of its literature. It did not enter within the scope of my observations to make any allusion (the single fact above mentioned only excepted) to the Harvard University or to the studies pursued there. Had it been otherwise, I would have spoken of it not only in terms expressive of my personal regard, but with the respect justly due to the first and, in every respect, the most useful and enlarged seminary of learning of the United States.
I am, &c.
I say nothing respecting my denying to classical learning any superiority over mathematics and science. This is a matter of opinion, and is not connected with your inquiry, nor indeed necessarily with the object I have in view.
GALLATIN TO R. WALSH, Jr.
New York, 16th February, 1831.
I thank you for your friendly letter of the 13th. What I have been able to ascertain on the subject of reviews is sufficient to satisfy me that your editors cannot afford to pay anything like five or six dollars a page for any contribution whatever, even if the labor to compile or write the article was intrinsically worth more. Be that as it may, I precluded myself from any pecuniary advantage when I undertook to write on a subject connected with the Bank of the United States. On this point my mind is made up, and, with thanks to the gentlemen, I must decline their offer. This is an excepted case, as, so far from having the slightest objection to receiving compensation for any labor of mine, my circumstances compel me to seek for some profitable occupation. Was it otherwise, I had much rather contribute occasionally to yours than attempt to establish another review. Whether I will undertake this is extremely doubtful. It is not the drudgery I fear; to that I have been used through life, and never more than during the twelve years I was in the Treasury Department. But success appears extremely doubtful. I have not yet discovered in what quarter the indispensable assistance for some most important branches is to be found; and the limited number of readers, combined with the much greater deduction allowed here than in Europe to booksellers, renders the undertaking dangerous to any but themselves. In this instance, if done at all, I must be proprietor and editor.
I am, &c.