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I cannot refrain from speaking of these things, because they are but representative of the great kindness and cordiality with which we strangers were received almost everywhere, simply as English teachers desiring to compare notes with our American cousins.
Having thus the advantage of actually sharing in the College life for a.week, I shall be able to describe the internal and social arrangements more fully than at Oberlin, where we boarded at an inn during the whole of our stay. Of course certain differences exist, but, on the whole, the social life of one College may be taken as fairly representative of that of the rest of similar institutions in the Western States.
At Hillsdale, one large and handsome brick building, consisting of three portions distinct from roof to basement, contains the College proper and two boarding-halls. In the central division, recitation and lecture-rooms, with the library and a handsome room for the President, occupy the two lower floors; while a goodsized chapel fills the whole of the second story, is of good height, and has a small organ-gallery at one end. Double staircases, with landings
common to both flights, run from top to bottom of this part of the building, and one is appropriated to the students of each sex, a further spirit of order assigning a side of each staircase to those ascending, and the other to those descending, so that the numbers occasion little confusion. Above the chapel is a kind of circular belfry, whence extensive views are to be obtained on all sides.
The whole left wing of the building, with the exception of some ground-floor rooms, is assigned to the female students, and the young men are similarly lodged in the right wing. A large but low dining-hall occupies most of the basement on the left side, and in this all the students resident in hall meet for meals, the Lady Superintendent and those teachers who lodge in the building being always present, and some of the Professors occasionally, There is no regular order with regard to seats, and the students disperse themselves much as they please, usually retaining the same places during the term-generally two or three girls sitting together, then two or three men, and so forth.
The whole arrangements of the College are thoroughly patriarchal and refreshingly simple. There is no “ hired help” whatever, except such as may be engaged for the kitchen by the steward, who has the whole charge of the commissariat department. All the students and teachers pay him a fixed sum for board during our stay it was, I think, $3 per weekand he provides and serves the meals for the whole community, according to his own judgment and on his own responsibility. The present steward has two daughters who are students in the College, and whose kindness to us I have already mentioned.
In each wing of the building are staircases leading into long passages, opening in their turn into corridors running from end to end of the wing at right angles with the length of the building. Into these corridors open, on each side, a long succession of numbered doors, each surmounted by a kind of revolving window or shutter fixed in the wall, which can be opened for purposes of ventilation. These rooms are nearly uniform in size throughout the building, and each is designed for two students, and furnished by the College with a double bedstead, a stove, one or two small tables, and two chairs. Bedding is provided by the students themselves, as also such other furniture as they need. The whole care of the room devolves on its occupants, who are expected to get through their “room-work" before the breakfast-bell rings at 7 A.M. Breakfast consists usually of tea and coffee, bread and butter, some kind of hash, potatoes, and the molasses which form so inevitable an accompaniment of a Western meal. The dishes of ready-cut food are brought in by the steward and his assistants, and placed on the different tables, where their contents quickly disappear, and a succession of hand-bells tinkle from all quarters, notifying requests for a fresh supply. The meals are all prefaced by long graces or prayers, which are offered by different students, or sometimes Professors, at the request of the steward. During these the doors are locked, to prevent interruption by late arrivals. The time allowed for eating is not long-twenty minutes, if I remember rightly—and five minutes before its expiry the steward strikes on a small bell to give warning of the time, and the students disperse one by one, as they severally finish their meal.
A short time elapses before the bell summons all to the places appointed for the roll to be called,—this being done, in the case of the girls, by the Lady Superintendent in a room appointed for the purpose; and, in that of the young men, by the President, or one of the Professors in the College-chapel. This is the time when general remarks are made and admonitions delivered, after which the girls proceed also to the chapel, and a short service follows.
The various recitations then begin, and continue till noon, when dinner is served, consisting generally of meat and vegetables, with sometimes some kind of pudding. As at Oberlin, no sintoxicating liquors” are allowed, “except by order of a physician.”
Study is again resumed from 1 P.M. to 4 P.M., but fewer classes meet than in the morning.
From 4 o'clock the students' time is their own until supper at 6; and after supper study in their own rooms is supposed to continue from 7 to 9 o'clock. At 10 all lights are to be extinguished.
The routine of study is much the same on all days except the two first of the week. On