Rhetoric was required, by statute, to ‘examine and compare the properties of ancient and modern languages,’ and ‘to delineate the characteristic features of the most celebrated Greek
, Roman, and English historians, orators, poets, and divines.’
Here were two very considerable sections, of what most scholars would regard as belonging to the department of belles-lettres, already in the charge of other teachers.
Obviously a revision of the different statutes might have been made, and the duties of the separate professors clearly defined, but nothing of the kind was done.
In answer to the preceding letter of August 9, the President
simply stated these facts to Mr. Ticknor
, who writes in reply: ‘This, of course, very much narrows the ground of the professorship of belles-lettres, though it still leaves it as wide, I suppose, as I could occupy with profit.
At any rate, it would be far from unpleasant to me to have it understood, that these branches of the belles-lettres are already occupied, and that it will not be expected of me to give any part of my attention to them.’
For some time Mr. Ticknor
suffered from delays in establishing rules for his department from imperfect rules, and from their inefficient enforcement; and he often remonstrated, always evincing a desire to have the means of producing more interest, more ambition of scholarship, and better opportunities of progress for the students, at whatever cost of labor to himself.
His whole attitude toward the College
was that of one animated by ardent zeal to promote the cause of good learning; and in spite of many discouragements, arising from the condition of the College
government, and from the general standard of scholarship in the community, he persevered, with an earnestness and patience which could not fail to have a marked and increasing effect.
He entirely succeeded in rousing and holding the attention of his classes; and the love of letters was quickened in them, not only by his words and manner, but by the example they saw in him, of one who had deliberately chosen the pursuit of literature, rather than yield to the allurements of a life of unprofitable leisure, or to those of a more lucrative profession.
His work in preparing lectures on the literatures and the literary