281 Tutor Sever’s Final Argument

    [August 23 1723]

    [1] May it please your Excellency and the Honourable and Reverend the rest of the Overseers of the College to favour me with a few words for the further support of this Memorial.

    And I would observe that in the Year 1650 Harvard College was first founded upon a Charter, which it subsisted upon for 22 years till 1672, that in that Year there was an Additional grant of Charter, that the College subsisted upon them both, 12 Years longer, till 1684, and about that time the old Country Charter was vacated, and the College Charter was supposed to fall of course with it.

    Soon after that I think the care and business of the College was committed to three persons under the Caracters of Rectors and Tutors pro tempore and till a better settlement might be obtained, and there were some laws made for their direction, in the business of the College which were suitable to that state of things.

    Afterward there were several draughts of Charters for the College but neither of them perfected. In the Year 1692 one of them passed through the Legislature here, and was sent home for the Royal Sanction, but after some time returned disallowed of by the King; while it was in force the Corporation made and published a body of Latin Laws, in the same year, and by those Laws the immediate Government of the College was committed to the President and Tutors, who were also Fellows upon the foundation, the Settlement of the College was again attempted but without effect. [2] And without multiplying words I proceed to the Settlement of 1707: which the College is now upon, and by an Act of the Generali Court, the College was thus fixed upon the aforesaid Old Charter of 1650, and the President and Fellows were directed to observe the rules of the Constitution by that Charter, which Act of Settlement of 1707 I pray may be read; so that now the College has no other foundation to depend upon but the Charter of 1650, and we have no rules to practice upon, but the rules of that Constitution, and to be sure none can be made use of, that are in a direct opposition to it.

    And I must now proceed, and say somthing of the Nature of the Constitution by that Charter, and in the first place the Corporation Nominated therein consists of 7 persons viz: a President five Fellows and a Treasurer who were all resident at the College and provision is made that upon the Death or removal of any of the said seven persons who were resident at the College they that are left shall elect others and compleat their number. I say nothing of the business of Legislation in the College or of the disposition of the College Revenues, for I think all agree that those matters belong to the Corporation but the difficulty (if any there be) lies in the business of Execution, and to bring the matter to a point, the Question is who are by this Charter to Execute the Laws and govern the Scholars and I [object? ] with submission, there are a few lines in the Charter that must be tho’t to determine that matter, beyond all doubt. And they are these Viz: And for the better ordering of the Government of the said College and Corporation: Be it enacted &c:1 now I think with submission no words can [3] express a thing more plainly and fully than this matter is here expressed, nor can any terms be used that are stronger than these. It is expressly said that the President and Fellows or Corporation shall meet upon all emergent occasions and for the execution of all Orders and By laws; it is then most certain, and beyond all doubt, that it is their business, and no bodies else to execute the laws and govern the College and no tolerable sence but this can be put upon these words.

    There is indeed another clause of the Charter which has been improved against us, and that is it which impowers the Corporation to choose other officers and servants not exceeding ten, viz: three for the service of the President and seven for the service of the College. Now it has been said that these Fellows of the House and Tutors, which are now made use of to govern the College come in properly under this head of Officers, and among the servants: but by Officers and servants there, the seven that belong to the College we must understand such as Steward, Butler, handy-craftsmen, and menial servants which the College has continual occasion to make use of and it is impossible that under this head of officers and servants any should be bro’t in to Execute the laws and govern the College untill that other part of the Charter, which was read but now be rased out of it, which says that the Corporation shall execute all Orders and By-laws, these two parts of the Charter are distinct and stand at some distance. I’ll set them together and compare them: the one, and that which is expressed is this, that the President and Fellows or Corporation shall execute all Orders and by laws, the other is that which empowers the Corporation to choose other Officers, and servants which they suppose, it is not [4] expressed but the Gentlemen of the Corporation suppose may be vested with power to execute the Orders and by laws of the College. Now if the Art of man can reconcile those two propositions to good sence, viz: first, that the Corporation shall execute all orders and By laws, and secondly that other Officers and servants may execute the Orders and by laws of the College We may then possibly be Mistaken, but to say that other Officers and servants may be vested with power to execute the Orders and by laws of the College when the Charter says expressly that this business shall be done by the Corporation and none else, is to attempt to reconcile a contradiction, and to make both the parts of it true. Moreover the business of the College is a great trust which the Government has reposed in a Corporation and their successors. Now if they may empower other Officers and servants to execute the laws of the College by the same rule they may empower them to make laws likwise, and to dispose of the Revenues, and do all the business of the College and by this means the design of the Government in committing so great a charge to them and their successors might be intirely defeated.

    And thus the Charter empowers the Corporation to govern the College without allowing them to substitute others in their room, and stead, and without making any provision for any body else to do that business and there are no words in the Charter upon which an Inferiour Judicature in the College to that of President and Fellows viz. consisting of President and Tutors or Fellows of the House, distinct from the Corporation can be founded.

    And in the Year 1655 there was a body of Laws, made and published upon this Charter which were exactly conformed to the Tenor of the Charter, only with this difference, that to the End that the Corporation [5] may not be obliged to meet in the College upon every trivial Occasion, the President or a single Tutor were empowered to do a few small things seperately, such as giving leave to a Student to go out of Town, receive and lodge a Stranger in the College &c. And here it may be observed by the way that the Tutors who were usually two or three of the Senior Fellows had a preference in the College to the other Fellows that were not Tutors, having a power in some such small things as the President likwise had, to direct their Pupils, which the other Fellows could not do, and the reason seems to be very good, viz: because a Fellow that was a Tutor must be supposed to understand the temper and circumstances of his own Pupils, who were every day with him, better than one of the other Fellows and there is one Law, I remember very particularly, which says that leave shall be obtained by a Student for going out of town, being present at Courts, Elections, &c. from the President or his Tutor, or in their absence, from two of the other Fellows, so that the Tutors or senior Fellows had a preeminence in the College to the other Fellows, being allowed some powers which they had not, and thus much for the management of a few small things in the College by the President or a Single Tutor or Fellow, but in matters of any weight tis the constant tenor of the Laws, that they shall be determined in Corporation and all decisions made by a Majority of President and Fellows.

    And besides all this, the form of Installment of Fellows which has at all times been made use of in the College when any has, for there is no other, is exactly of a piece with the Charter and obliges the Fellow to govern the Scholars. It has indeed of late been disused [6] I believe for these reasons, first, because it gives the Fellows such powers in the College as they are not now allowed to have, and secondly because it disallows of the Non-residence of Fellows which is now so much in practice, by it the Fellows powers are limited to the time of their residence in the College dum hic commoraberis, and dum hic ageris, are the words of the form.

    Now since the Charter, Laws, and form of Installment of Fellows all agree in this point, that the President and Fellows or Corporation shall govern the College and for that end suppose their residence in it, it must needs be so, and cant possibly be otherwise.

    And nothing I think can be more clear and evident than that this was the Constitution of the College government by the Charter and Laws, and that it was a fundamental Principle in the Charter, that the College should be governed nextly and immediately by the Corporation and none else, and under the Countenance and with the approbation of the Honourable and Reverend Overseers in all points and difficulties; so that what we aim at, is not to break up an Antient Constitution, as has been suggested, but to recover a broken constitution, which the College has for some Years been groaning and bleeding under, to its Antient, primitive, most perfect and healthfull state.

    It is objected that the Latin Laws put the Immediate Government of the College into the hands of the President and Tutors, and argued that therefore the President and Tutors have by those Laws a Sufficiency of power in the business of the College.

    And I must confess, that at the first View, this seemed to me to have a greater weight against us than any thing that I had met with upon the head, and I therefore think myself obliged to be somthing particular in giving an Answer. [7] And in the first place we’ll allow the Argument all the force and advantage it has on that side, and then we’ll endeavour to answer it.

    And we do allow that by those laws several parts of the business of the College are put into the hands of the President or a Tutor and if it be desired, we will allow further that the whole Immediate Government of the College was committed to the President and Tutors.

    But then for answer, who were those Tutors and what were their caracters in the College? were they only Tutors and upon no foundation as we are? No! by no means. Mr. Leveret the present President and Mr. Brattle were the men, and they were Fellows too, upon the foundation, their Names are to be seen as such in the Charter of 1692: which the College was then upon; and nothing more can therefore be argued from thence, but that the Immediate Government of the College was by those Laws committed to the President and resident Fellows. And I suppose the only reason of so many Non-resident Fellows as there were under that Charter was, because that Charter had no reference to the Overseers as this has or to any power of Visitation abroad whatsoever, for which reason by the way, I suppose the Charter was disallowed of by the King.

    Now the Corporation having by that Charter all the powers of the College which was so great an Interest committed to them, it was tho’t reasonable and necessary that it should consist of a considerable number, and that there should be many non-resident Fellows and persons of very conspicuous caracters in the Country that might be a sufficient gaurd upon the College Board, and prevent any male-administration in the business of it, as well as a sufficient number of resident Fellows to carry on the business of the College within; and now I think the College is at present very happy [8] in that it has so sufficient a gaurd and so strong a power of Visitation abroad as this, consisting of your Excellency, this Honourable Body, and twenty or thirty of the principle Gentlemen of the Clergy of the Country; and I believe no man can question the strength and sufficiency of this great and Learned body for a gaurd upon the College abroad, and if that Charter had had the same reference to the Overseers, which this has, I beleive no Body had tho’t of one non-resident Fellow. Now to argue that because there the Government of the College was committed into the hands of the President and Tutors, who were also Fellows upon the foundation, that therefore now, it may be governed by the President and Tutors who are not Fellows and who are upon no foundation is in my Opinion a Strain in arguing beyond all reason in the world, and which can be admited of by no man.

    But for Arguments sake I’ll go one step further and suppose the utmost that can be supposed here in favour to this Objection and the Argument upon it and that is this, that although when that Body of laws was made, the Gentlemen that were then Tutors and refered to in them were Fellows also and upon the foundation, yet possibly it might be designed to have provision made that sometime afterward the College might be governed by a President and Tutors who were not Fellows and who were upon no foundation, and that the Charter which they were made upon would admit of such a state of things, this is I think the utmost that can be supposed in favour to the Objection and the Argument upon it.

    And now for Answer, I pray that it may be considered when these Laws were made and upon what Establishment and they were made and published in 1692 and upon a Charter which a little before that time was granted by this Government and sent home for the Royal approbation, and sometime after, as I have observed returned disallowed of by the King and there was no other settlement of the College till 1707, when it was by the Government fixed upon the Charter of 1650, as was so before, on which it now stands; and now in this Charter tis expressly [9] provided that the Corporation of seven, and none else shall govern the College and if upon this settlement of 1707 the governours of the College had designed that the House should be governed by that body of Latin Laws that were made upon another foundation, which I dont know but might be very proper, for mutatis mutandis I think they are very good ones, the old body of English Laws are somthing more particular, but if I say they had designed the College should be governed by the Body of Latin Laws which were made upon a former Charter I think with great submission their first business had been to engross that Body of Latin Laws upon the stock of the Charter of 1650 which the College was now fixed upon, but in order there unto those Laws must be in some measure altered and made to square with the Charter, and how can it possibly be otherwise? For here’s a direct opposition between the Charter and them. The Charter says the College shall be governed by the Corporation and none else, and these Laws (taken in this sence) say that it may be governed by other persons, viz: by a President and Tutors who are not of the Corporation. Now either the Charter must be conformed to those Laws, or else those Laws must be conformed to the Charter and which of these two can be tho’t most reasonable? that the Charter should be bro’t to those Laws, which were made under another and a different establishment or else that those Laws should be bro’t to the Charter which the College is settled upon by the Government? Any body may I think easily answer the Question and surely all Laws that are introduced upon this Charter, must be conformed to the Charter, the Charter must be the measure and standard of all Laws to be received and practiced upon, while it is in force, so that if another Charter and Establishment did admit of such a state of things as that the College might be governed by a President and Tutors, who were not Fellows most certainly this Charter dos not, and the Laws of a former Establishment cant be brot into use here any further than as they are made to square with the present Establishment or any otherwise than as they are understood in a sence [10] that is agreeable with it. And this I have supposed only for Argument sake, and that the Objection and Argument upon it may have all the force and advantage that can be desired, and not that there was any such officer as a Tutor that was not a Fellow when those Laws were made and published, or had ever been heard of in the College before, when it pretended to be upon a Charter, nor can I believe that it was designed that there should be such a state of things in the College at any time afterward, because I have enquired very strictly and cant find that there ever was any such state of things in any College.

    And upon the whole the matter being weighed, I dont find that there is any material difference between the Old English Laws and the new Latin ones, they both agree in this, that small things shall be managed by the President or a Single Tutor, and somtimes they both say, by the President and a Tutor and by Tutors in both are understood Fellows upon a foundation and in both it is provided that matters of greater weight shall be decided in Corporation but under this head the English Laws are somthing more express and particular than the Latin ones are. And this is the only difference that I can find between them which I think is not very material and they both fully enough agree in this point, that the College is to be governed by the President and Fellows and none else, and thus I think with submission the objection must fall and those latin Laws cant support and bear out any body here in the business of the College in a direct opposition to the Charter, and as we use those latin Laws by Tutors we must understand such as are Fellows also, as they were understood when the Laws were made.

    It is again objected, that when the College shall increase to a great number of Students, the Corporation of Seven wont be sufficient for the business of the College for Tuition, that therefore it will be necessary to introduce persons under this head of Officers and servants to manage the business of the College.

    [11] For answer it must be best and most safe to see to it, in the first place, that such a power for the College may be made out and defended upon the Charter before it be asserted and practiced upon; I love the College as well as any man and would willingly understand the Charter as much in favour to it as it will bear, but to strain a thing of this Nature beyond the genuine sence of it is with submission the most direct step that can be taken to loose all. This is indeed a fine easie short way of providing for the service of the College in its advanced state, if it be but a safe one, but for the Fellows to suppose that they may quit the business of the College themselves and under the head of Officers and servants to substitute others to do it, and as many as they please, an indefinite number, is to pretend to such a power as I believe was never granted to any College under the British Dominion. And if the College should assert such a power and practice upon it, I am afraid it would endanger the Charter. But this is a point of Law which in the presence of so many Gentlemen who are learned in the Laws and know well how that matter is, I’ll venture only to mention, to be tho’t upon, and resolved by them. And surely it is worthy of consideration, and if it would endanger the Charter, though I suppose no body owes the College so much ill will or would do us so ill an office as to pursue the matter in the law yet it wont consist with prudence to give an opportunity.

    But to come a little nigher, if under the head of officers and servants the Corporation could substitute others for the business of the College, yet as the Corporation is limited to seven, even so, as it happens, that number of officers and servants has the same limitation exactly if the Charter be read through it appears that there can be but ten in all viz: three for the service of the President and seven for the service of the College so that allowing this objection and argument while the Corporation are non-resident, there’s not one Inch gained for the College but if I had time I’m sure I could easily prove that very much is lost.

    And this is Argumentum ad hominum, but the [12] true answer to this objection with great submission I take to be this, that if in a course of time the Number of seven which the Corporation consists of shall be found not sufficient for the business of the College in its great encrease, Application must then be made to the same power that made the first grant of Charter for an additional grant and that such a Number of Fellows may be added as the business of the College calls for and as the Revenues of it shall be sufficient for the support of. This I think is the common method in the University and the only effectual method that can be taken for the service of a College in its advanc’d state; and surely it was never supposed that upon the first foundation of a College when its Revenues are small and its Numbers few, such provisions should be made for it by one grant of Charter as should answer under all circumtances and to the end of time. And thus I think this Objection is fully annuled.

    And now to suppose that the business of a College may be carried on as effectually and well by persons upon no foundation as upon one, is to argue against the sence of Mankind and the experience of all the later ages of the world, for all Colleges every where are founded upon Charters, and the business of them is committed into the hands of an Head, under the caracter of a President or Rector, Master or Warden, Principle or Provost, and a certain Number of Fellows resident upon a foundation and it is not supposed that this business can otherwise be carryed on to good effect.

    I’ll illustrate this matter and please your Excellency by a Simile, an easie and familiar simile, suppose for the purpose in any other affairs civil or military a person should receive a caracter and Title and engage in any such business, without a commission for it, how odd a figure must such a person make! how impertinent and despicable must he appear to the world, and more properly an object of derision than of regard, and to be sure could accomplish nothing, could do nothing to effect.

    [13] Now and please your Excellency this is exactly our case at College for the Charter we look upon as of the Nature of a Commission for the College and such as are not upon that foundation, either as President or Fellows are left out of the Commission, so that this is exactly our case, and we cant help ourselves unless by resigning of this appointment and that would be no remedy for the College for my own part if I had tho’t it would I would silently have done it, long ago; but your Excellency and this Honourable body can with a words speaking give releif both to the College and to us, and it cant be supposed that under these circumstances we should be able to carry on the business of the College to good effect, for indeed the Charter which should be our support and direction in all the business of the College proves our constant Mortification.

    I remember very well that some Years since the Non-residence of the President was complained of as greatly detrimental to the College although he usually visited the College once a fortnight or oftener and performed suitable exercises, both scholastical and Theological, and surely the Non-residence of Fellows cant but be hurtfull to the College also, who usually dont meet here more than twice or thrice a year, and when they do come (it being so seldom) cant but come very much unacquainted with the affairs and business of the College. When they have been here I suppose they have at all times truly aimed at the good of the College but their unacquaintedness with the affairs of it has I believe been very hurtfull.

    I have the greatest esteem and veneration for the Non-resident Fellows of the College for their unquestioned Learning and Piety, and I am very unhappy in being obliged to express my sentiments upon this Occasion, which I find are different from theirs, and nothing but an apprehension of the Necessity of it for the good of the College would have induced me to it, but so long as the College has every way so sufficient a gaurd abroad to prevent any Male-administration in the [14] business of it (and I believe scarce any College has upon every Account a stronger and better) and so long as by the Non-residence of Fellows the resident ones are crowded off from the foundation and striped of the powers of the College, so long I say, it is impossible (I speak it with the lowest submission) that the non-residence of Fellows should answer any other end in the College but to cramp and depress the caracters of the resident ones, and render them insignificant and useless in the business of the College by this means indeed the Government of the College is become strong abroad, but its left weak and defenceless at home.61

    [15] And by these several Steps it becomes so, in the first place the Fellows Salaries are bro’t down to about one half in value of what they were above 20 years ago; then I find the Fellows had £50 per Annum each from the Ferry and from the College Treasury and their Pupil Money which by computation was £56 per Annum for many Years together, so that their Salaries were £106 per annum whereas now the first Salary is £90 and so they descend by tens as low as fifty and if the difference of money be considered the Fellows Salaries are not above half as much in value now as they were so long ago, and thus they are very much straitened in their circumstances. The reason that has been given for it is that the President is resident now, which he was not then, but so long as Mr. President is supported by the Country and not by the College this can be no reason for the difference that is made, and the College estate is sufficient to allow us all as good a subsistance as the Fellows ever had although our Number be encreased. Then again, Fellows are stript of the powers of the Charter by being left out of the Corporation. Then, to keep them under a Triennal Act is made limiting the Election of resident Fellows to three Years, which was never heard of in any College and it is practiced upon, although never approved of by the Overseers, as the Charter directs. Thus as if all this was not enough to make the resident Fellows signifie nothing in the College, of late the Corporation have got into a new Method of leaving a Committee behind them when they do meet, if there be any thing of Importance to be done and thus the resident Fellows caracters are depressed in the College. And being sensible of the bad effects hereof in College they all made a modest application to the Corporation but in stead of a redress they bestowed upon them a reprimand. And when despaired of relief from the Corporation we made this humble application to your Excellency and the Honourable and Reverend Overseers as the dernier resort of the College Government. Tis said that the Overseers cant have a meeting without leave from the Corporation and I think that when they are met they cant consider of any matter but what is laid before them by the [16] Corporation and there is but one easie step more to perfect the scheme and that is that when they are met and matters are laid before them they may determine nothing but what is agreeable to the determinations of the Corporation and this notwithstanding by the Charter the Overseers are in all points a gaurd upon the College. And then on the one side the Authority of your Excellency and the Honourable and Reverend Overseers in College Affaires is at least very much cast off. And on the other hand the Resident Fellows are run down, and the Corporation abroad do nothing themselves and this is the true state of things in College and what but confusion can be expected from this situation of our affairs [in College] and if we had not managed with the utmost caution, we had the College long before now in great disorder.

    And I cant but mention one circumstance in this state of things which I look upon as very unhappy and that is that the Fellows are not only nonresident but that they are chosen from among the Overseers and thus matters are bro’t by the Fellows from themselves in Corporation to themselves as Overseers for confirmation. They seem with submission to be incompetent judges among the Overseers of matters that have passed through their own hands in Corporation and if any thing should be amiss in the College and wanted regulation by the Overseers by this means the proceeding must needs be greatly clogged and made very difficult as Witnesseth (to go no further) the process upon this affair, although nothing can be more clear and evident than that our pretentions are just and well grounded and this must needs be a standing inconvenience in the College if not remedied.

    And this scheme for the College affairs must be more regular and strong, viz: for the Corporation upon the spot according to the direction of the Charter to carry on the business of the College within, while the Overseers abroad do with their Authority strengthen and support in all their just Administrations, as the Charter provides and stand as a gaurd to prevent any Male-administration in the business of the College within.62

    All the Graduates in College both Masters and Bachelors observe that we have no interest in the College and if they are in pursuit of any favour in the College they are made to know that they have no dependence upon us for it, that it is not in our power to do them good or hurt, and thus some of the strongest ties upon the Human Nature to a regard to us are taken off; and this sence of things desends from them down among the Undergraduates and our own Pupils observe how our caracters are depressed and that our interest is lost in the College and that the extent of our power goes no further than to amerce a disorderly person a six pence or a Shilling which goes into the Quarter Bill and they dont value it and by this means it becomes more and more difficult for us to keep them in a proper decorum. And if the resident Fellows had the best accomplishments for the business of the College; if their caracters are not supported in the College it will be impossible for them to do it, to keep their Pupils in a proper decorum, and if the good order, Government and decorum of the College is lost, the loss will prove very great. I have tho’t several times within these two or three Years past that the College has been upon the very brink of great disorders and when we in our places have done the best we could to prevent them we have seen and felt the feableness of the College state and if we are hunted about here our Pupils observe it and the Natural tendency [17] of it is to lessen that regard towards us which they ought to have and our part in this state of things is all a mock business it appears to be so, and has been greatly detrimental to the College.

    By indulgence and upon sufferance and not upon Charter, we have indeed on our parts been assisting in the business of the College in this Method for some Years, but I believe every body acquainted with the Affairs of the College knows the difficulties the resident Fellows have met with in this Method, and how hurtfull this State of things has been in the College and truly I believe every body else that considers the bottom we are upon may be very likly to guess as much, and I’m sure I may say that the most if not all the resident Fellows are under great discouragements in the business of the College and indeed it is not without reason.

    This state of things has for some time been indulged. I pray that it may not pass into an establishment for if it be as has been said and with great submission I think well proved from the Charter and Laws, then, to make such an establishment must be by one Act, to give away the Charter and in the face of it, to set up a Constitution in the College that is in a direct opposition to it, and contrary to the Usages of All Colleges.

    Elections of Officers and Exhibitions of the College Money are I think the two principle things now managed by the Corporation and now, when Mr. Hollis’s generous Donation comes to be wholly applied, there will be at least forty persons benefited this way. And I believe the non-resident Gentlemen have not the least person knowledge of half so many of the students. Now the Donors of Money to the College very strictly oblige the disposers of it to have a regard to the Caracter and Merit of persons and the College Charter no less strictly obliges them to observe the Directions of the Donor of Money to the College in all those dispositions, which it is impossible for them to do while they are so unacquainted with persons in the [18] College they cannot act in this business upon any knowledge of their own, they must needs act very much in the dark in the bestowment of these favours and when there are such favours to be disposed of among our Pupils I think nothing can be more reasonable than that we should have a hand in the disposition and this power, prudently managed by the residents may be improved very much for the service of the College by encouraging the ingenious and industrious and by discountenancing the slothfull and vicious, if any such there be as by the Non-residents it cannot be.

    And although in Great Britain the non-residence of the clergy is so very common in the Churches yet in the University the non-residence of a Fellow of a College is seldom known and never allowed of, but in extraordinary cases, and when it is so there are alwayes a sufficient number of Fellows left resident upon a foundation to manage the Affairs of the College which they belong to, but to have the Fellows of a College non-resident and to have other persons introduced with only a Title and that are upon no foundation to manage the business of it, which is the case here, is I believe a thing intirely new under the sun, and after the strictest enquiry that I have been able to make, I believe this is the first instance of this Nature that ever was, and I’m sure it has produced bad effects in the College and if the method be continued, I make no doubt, but it will do so still.

    Our great Numbers at the College now require a more exact discipline than this state of things will admit of, and if we cant come at it some way or other and with great submission I believe the Method we propose is the only effectual one that can be tho’t on, if I say, we cant come at it some way or other in my opinion (and I speak it in the fear of God) in stead of a Nursery of Religion and Learning the College will be a Nest of ignorance and disorders. [19] I would gladly have spared some things which I have mentioned, it is no pleasure to have mentioned them on the contrary tis very greivous, but the many insults we have met with in the business of the College and the loose state of things here makes this much absolutely necessary and I might I believe add many things more very much for the service of the College but least I should be tho’t to exceed I choose rather (at least for the present) to stop here.

    We are regularly elected Fellows and dont ask for any new election and as to the destinction between Fellows of the Corporation and Fellows of the House it was never heard of in the College till very lately and somtimes the Corporation are upon our Records called Fellows of the House there is no colour of any foundation for such a destinction in the Charter, and we therefore look upon it as a destinction without a difference.

    And now the design of this Memorial is no other, but that we, who are regularly elected and confirmed Fellows according to the directions of the Charter, and as such have the business of the College committed to us, may be enabled to proceed in that business regularly upon the Charter and according to the known Laws of the College and that we may have such a subsistence as our predicessors in this business have formerly had, which has of late years been very much shortened for what reasons we cannot tell; and we therefore assure ourselves (with humble submission) that your Excellency and the Honourable and Reverend the rest of the Overseers of the College will think it reasonable and necessary for the good of the College that the prayer of it should be granted.

    College Papers, 1. 54 (No. 119); in Sever’s hand. This is printed, with a few additions, in Proceedings, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1st Series (1878), xvi. 54–67. George Dexter read the document, which was then in the hands of a Sever descendant. It ends as follows: “In Council. Aug. 23, 1723. Read. N. Sever.” The Council at the same time heard the Corporation’s defense, and decided to take no further action. In 1725 the Corporation magnanimously elected Sever a Fellow of the Corporation; he held this post for three years, when he married a widow from Kingston and moved there. The question of membership of the faculty on the Corporation was thus laid to rest, until its revival a hundred years later.