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Chapter 18:

Efforts for reform in Harvard College.

The spirit with which Mr. Ticknor entered on his professorship at Harvard College, and the scheme of duties he formed, to the fulfilment of which he gave himself with characteristic energy, hopefulness, and ardor, have been noticed in preceding pages. He had not been long engaged in his work before he found himself hampered by the general conditions of instruction at Cambridge, and his success in his own department materially checked by the deficiencies of the system then in force.

Alike in respect to discipline and to learning, the College was not in a satisfactory state. Many of the officers of the government and of instruction were aware of existing defects, and anxious to find a remedy for them; while the friends of the College, in the community at large, felt the necessity of vigorous measures of change and improvement. Mr. Ticknor's quick intelligence soon detected the sources of the evils by which the usefulness of the College was diminished, and his generous zeal for the best culture urged him to exert his full powers for their removal. He took up the question of reform without hesitation, and for several years he was one of the chief leaders in the endeavor to secure the changes required, to make the College an institution for the highest education attainable with such means and resources as it had at command. The attempt was only in part successful. The community was not prepared for some of the strong changes which were proposed; but the impulse was given, which, in the fifty years that have followed, has been efficient in raising the College to its present position as a University, fully equipped and admirably served, and no one did more to create it than Mr. Ticknor.

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