<br /> Lee Letter: w283

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Robert E. Lee
Recipient: Washington College Board of Trustees

The Faculty would beg leave to suggest to the Board of Trustess the propriety of making some slight modification to the subjects, and of defining more precisely than has been done, the limits of the Departments of instruction in the College, designated as that of History and English Literature. As connected with the subjects we would invite the attention of the Board to a practical difficulty in carrying out the scheme of studies as at present arranged.

The branches assigned to the Chair of Moral Philosophy are Mental Science, Logic, Rhetoric, Belles Lettres, Ethics or Moral Philosophy proper, the Evidence of Christianity, Political Economy, with attention to Declamation and Composition. The number of these subjects, as well as their nature, render it impracticable for one Professor to teach them all, in any adequate manner, without such an extension of the time allotted for the course as would interfere with the order prescribed for the several departments of the College, and such, indeed, as it is not advisable to attempt to make, some relief of this Chair is, in our view, a matter of neccessity.

With a view to obviate the difficulty, and also to impart to the Chair, about to be filled and value equal to those of other chairs, it is recommended that it include the following branches, namely: 1. History; 2. The Art of Rhetoric, that is, Rhetoric as actually applied in Criticism, Elocution and Composition; leaving the Science of Rhetoric, as heretofore, in the department of Moral Philosophy, with the affiliated subjects of Mental Science and Logic; 3. English Literature, Historical and Critical, with Readings, original Essays and Orations; 4. Political Economy, which although a Science and to be taught as such, falls as naturally within the scope of this department or within any other.

It is believed that whilst the above scheme will afford full employment to one Professor, it will get by within the compass of his ability, and will not exceed, in the amount of labour involved, the other Chairs of the College. It will be seen also, that the subjects may be conveniently divided into two courses to be completed each in one session, thus:

Junior Course; History & Rhetoric,

Senior Course; English Literature and Political Economy.

The foregoing distribution of topics assumed that “English Philosophy,” including the Grammar of thatlanguage, will remain, as under the existing arrangements, in charge of the Professor of Modern Languages. And this we earnestly recommend not merely as a temporary experiment but as a permanent order. We are satisfied that the English will be most successfully taught by a formal recognition of the fact that it is a modern language, in which instruction is to be imparted with all the system and precision required in the thorough teaching of any other modern language. Convinced of the impportance of bestowing far more attention on this branch than has been usual in our College, and believing that with us it is receiving, and, as now conducted, will continue to receive, such attention, we should regret to transfer to a department where it might not occupy the prominence and receive the time and labour which we are now given to it.

Respectfully submitted

R E Lee Pres: W.C.

Washington College Honble John W. Brockenbrough Rector


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