A. E. (Arthur Everett) Shipley.

The voyage of a vice-chancellor, with a chapter on university education in the United States online

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Artihoif llverett Shipley^



















J 387887


Copyright, 1919, by







The following extracts are from a private
diary which the author wrote whilst on an
extensive tour in the United States during
the autumn of 19,18 as a member of the
British University Mission. Our Mission
had been invited to the United States by
the Council of Defense at Washington and
had been sent out under the auspices of the
British Foreign Office. For more than
sixty days we went up and down a vast
country, travelling many thousands of miles,
and seeing so many Universities and Col-
leges and so many Presidents and Professors
that those amongst us who had not hitherto
had the privilege of visiting the United
States formed the idea that all its cities are


viii Preface

university cities and that all the inhabitants
are professors, an idea very awful to
contemplate !

As the author has tried to indicate in his
Dedication, everywhere we went we met
with kindness, and kindness that came from
the brain as well as from the heart. But
especially we owe thanks to certain "guides,
philosophers, and friends" who shepherded
our steps. One of these, an official of the
United States Bureau of Education at
Washington, accompanied us on the whole
tour. His extraordinary powers of organiza-
tion, his inexhaustible information, and his
ready and self-sacrificing help, cannot be
too highly praised. Others who helped us
on our trip were: the Secretary of the
Reception Committee of the Council (a
professor of Harvard), who met us on our
arrival at New York and accompanied us
to Washington, and later to Boston; the
American Secretary of the Rhodes Scholars

Preface ix

(a professor of the Massachusetts Institute
of Technolog}^), who guided us from Boston
to Chicago. From Chicago to Minneapolis
we had the great advantage of the presence
of the Chairman of the Reception Commit-
tee of the American Council on Education
(a President of one of the leading Colleges
in the Middle West) ; and the President of
the University of Kentucky travelled with
us from St. Louis to Lexington, where his
own University is situate. All these gentle-
men were ever ready and helpful in explain-
ing the intricacies of American university
life. We were fortunate enough to meet
them at many centres, and always found the
same helpful advice, and care for our wel-
fare. To each and all of them we owe a
deep debt of gratitude.

Certain parts of this Diary have appeared
in Scribner's Magazine^ New York, and
others in Country Life, London, and one
section entitled "The Universities'' has ap-

X Preface

peared in The Edinburgh Review. This is
a more serious account of the facilities pro-
vided by the United States for Higher Edu-
cation. It is, of course, very incomplete;
but it is impossible to compass within a small
book the immense variety of organization
and the varied range of subjects the Mission
encountered on its voyage. The owners and
editors of these publications have given the
author leave to reprint and he thanks them.

A. E. S.

St. George's Day, 1919.

"It is always a writer's duty to make the worid better."

Dr. Johnson.


The Voyage of a Vice-Chancellor " . i

University Education in the United
States 143

Chapter I
The Atlantic

"In the midst of this sublime and terrible storm, Dame
Partington . . . was seen at the door of her house,
with mop and pattens, trundling her mop, squeezing
out the sea-water, and vigorously pushing away the
Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic was roused. Mrs.
Partington's spirit was up; but I need not tell you
that the contest was unequal. The Atlantic Ocean
beat Mrs. Partington. She was excellent at a slop,
or a puddle, but she should not have meddled with
a tempest."

Sydney Smith, Speech on the Reform Bill,
delivered at Taunton, England, Oct. 12, 183 1.

September 25th, 1918

THE present passport Is pink, printed
on pink paper with little red lines
criss-crossing all about it. Gone —
and probably gone for ever — are those aris-
tocratic old passports with fine lettering on
fine paper, down the face of which ran a
stream of historic titles which, in the two the

2 The Voyage of

Government basely forced me to surrender in
exchange for the present pink abomination,
began with a Marquisate and trickled
through the lower degrees of the peerage un-
til one ended in a Barony or two, and the
other fell as low as a Baronetcy. So many
historic titles seemed to justify the "We,"
which reads a little odd as, "We, Arthur
James Balfour." Each of my old passports
was studded over with "vises" and "permis-
sos" and covered over with gorgeous Russian
and Turkish stamps and much Cyrillic and
Arabic script. These I had to give up in ex-
change for a common-looking paper marked
by a rubber stamp in violet-blue ink, which
simply "shouted" at the pink, with the word

The older form could be folded up and
put away in a pocket-book and forgotten till
asked for, the new form is bound up in cheap
green boards of such a size as to be always
intruding on one, no matter how wide one's

A Vice-Chancellor 3

pockets are. The old passport had the reti-
cence of a gentleman and was content with
your signature, the new one clamours for vul-
gar details about your age and personal ap-
pearance, and it gets them.

The difference between passports ancient
and modern may be compared with the dif-
ference between a clean £5 note, with its
crisp, white paper, fine lettering and the
romance of its secret signs, and that modern
form of "filthy lucre" the current los. note.

Thursday, September 26th

We arrived at our Port of Embarka-
tion in a gale and it continued to blow all the
night, and all the next day,

Friday, September 27th

during which we wistfully tried to
fulfil the divergent and incoherent instruc-
tions we had severally received from the

4 The Voyage of

Minister of Information : and it blew all the
night of that day. On

Saturday, September 28tK

it blew worse than ever and our pessi-
mist, who is an authority on weather, cheered
us up by assuring us that we were embark-
ing at the very worse time of the year and
that we should have equinoctial gales the
whole way across.

It wasn't so easy to get on board. We
stood in a vast, damp, dreary dock in two
queues, saloon passengers and steerage pas-
sengers, and waited to have our papers in-
spected. Our inspector was of a slowness
beyond words and when at last I was
getting near to him I was so angered by a
pompous man "on somebody's staff" pushing
ahead of all of us and engaging in an inter-
minable conversation with our man, that I
deserted my class and joined the steerage

A Vice-Chancellor 5

group and was on board in five minutes.
I was a little sorry that I did this as I saw
a poor old Jamaican negro "turned down."
Some one had told him that Jamaica was
In America and he had, with a fine impar-
tiality, registered on one paper as an
American citizen and on another as a British
citizen. I wonder what became of him. I
suppose I shall never know.

Later in the day I had my revenge on
the staff man. He turned out to be a suc-
cessful writer of the more vacuous forms of
revue^ and he took his art and himself very
seriously. After luncheon he changed his
tunic and put on a Norfolk jacket so that
down to his waist his torso or bust was
civilian, whilst below his waist his lower
extremities were military. In effecting this
exchange something had gone wrong with his
braces and all that afternoon and evening
he walked about in a stately and haughty
way festooned behind with loops which

6 The Voyage of

recalled the flowery swags of Mantegna's

Sunday, September 29th

On Sunday morning we moved from
the dock into the river and waited till tea-
time on its muddy and rubbish-laden waters.
The wind had completely dropped and a
sabbath-calm and a river-fog lay on every-
thing. All day we waited swinging with
the tide until about 5 p.m. when we felt
the first delicious thrill of the engine at
work. All this day large tenders laden with
hundreds and hundreds of American soldiers
passed us going up-stream to the City on
their way from the troop-ships lying further
down near the mouth of the river.

On coming on board on the previous day
it became obvious that when not on deck
we should be living entirely in artificial
light. All windows and port-holes had

A Vice-Chancellor 7

been made absolutely light-proof and whilst
the public saloon and state-rooms were bril-
liantly lit up, no ray of light was allowed
to leave them. After dark the decks were
quite black and if you groped on to them
it was through heavy curtains and blackened
doors. The insignificant glow of a cigarette
was strictly forbidden and the darkness of
the outside was infinitely darker than Cam-
bridge or even Norwich at its worst.

During the morning each passenger was
given a Boddy's Life Jacket and at 4 p.m.
we were paraded on Deck B and received
a card indicating which boat was ours, and
to this we went. An officer — who ought to
be a University Lecturer — then in one of the
clearest, concisest and shortest of speeches
told us what we were to do in case there was
need to do anything. We were all wearing
the life-jackets and I had thought we should
feel a little self-conscious, if not ludicrous,
but we didn't. It all seemed so natural, and

8 The Voyage of

so much in the day's work, that one took it
as though one had worn such robes for years.
These jackets are stuffed with the fibres
known commercially as kapok. For the
following account of this vegetable product
I am indebted to Mr. L. H. Dewey of the
Bureau of Plant Industry, Washington,
whose letter I quote:

The name kapok is a Malay name, applied to
a cotton-like down produced in the seed pods of
the kapok, or randoe, tree, Ceiba pentandra.
This tree is native in the West Indies and in
many parts of tropical America. It has been
widely distributed in the Tropics of both hemi-
spheres and is found on many of the tropical
islands. In English-speaking colonies it is
usually known as the silk-cotton tree. In Span-
ish-speaking colonies it is more often known as
ceiba, though the name ceiba is often applied to
other species of the genus Ceiba, and often to
some of the species of the genera Bombax and

The kapok tree was introduced into Java at
least half a century ago, and it is cultivated
there over large plantations in the region of
Samarang, and is also grown along the road-
sides and borders of fields on many plantations
throughout the central part of the island.

A Vice-Chancellor 9

During the past ten years systematic efforts
have been made to set out kapok trees in planta-
tions, and especially along roadsides, in the
Philippines, and more recently in Porto Rico.
These newer plantings, however, have not yet
reached a stage of commercial importance.

Nearly all of the kapok of commerce hitherto
has come from Java, and the greater portion of
it has been handled in the markets of Rotter-
dam and Amsterdam, Holland.

Kapok has been used at least fifteen years as
the principal material in stuffing life preservers
and life belts on the Dutch steamships sailing
to the Orient, and also on the North German
Lloyd. I think that it was used on the English
P. & O. Line, but I have never been on those
ships and have no definite information on this
point. It was used on the other ships not only
for life belts and life preservers but also as a
stuffing for mattresses and pillows. It is a very
good salutary stuffing and serves the purpose
quite well, except that it breaks to pieces more
quickly than cotton, wool, feathers, or hair.

Kapok has been very thoroughly tested for
buoyancy by the Government of Holland. I
think that Professor Van Iterson, of the Hoch
Schule at Delft, either planned or was inter-
ested in some of these tests. The results indi-
cated that it was the most buoyant material
available for various forms of life preservers.
Its buoyancy depends on each individual fibre.
These are unicellular hairs with relatively thin

10 The Voyage of

walls, practically impervious to moisture, and,
except under very strong pressure, each indi-
vidual cell remains very distended, like a min-
iature cigar-shaped balloon. In a life preserver,
therefore, they act like so many millions of little
sacks of air.

Kapok has been treated specially and spun
experimentally at Chemnitz, Germany, but it
can not be classed as a spinning fibre. It can
not be spun alone without special treatment on
any machinery now made. The fibres, which
average scarcely more than lO mm. in length,
are not only too short for ordinary spinning
material, but they lack "felting" properties
necessary to make them cling together so as to
form a yarn. This very lack of "felting" prop-
erties, or the property of becoming matted,
makes them especially valuable as stuffing
fibres. In this respect a good stuffing fibre and
a good spinning fibre have qualities diametri-
cally opposed.

After this, even when we had passed the
danger-zone, we had always to carry these
jackets with us and as they were white
oblongs, with bold letters printed on them,
when we passed one another in the inspis-
sated gloom of the companion- or alley-
ways, we looked like ghosts of newsvendors

A Vice-Chancellor ii

from the happy days when newspaper pla-
cards still existed. We clung to our jackets
as old ladies cling to their white Shetland
shawls, and, like the old ladies, we sometimes
left them about.

The same fibre is used in stuffiing comely
waistcoats which are less conspicuous than
the ''Boddy Jacket," and there is also a
waistcoat whose buoyancy depends on its
being blown up. Opinion varied as to the
relative values of these rival articles. Hav-
ing both I wore both, but if I had to choose
but one, I should choose the ''Boddy,"
though the wearer should know that kapok
is very inflammable. Before leaving, how-
ever, I had consulted a friend of mine, Dr.
P., who with his wife had just come back
from the States. On the whole he spoke
well of the blown-up waistcoat, at least as
regards himself, but he added, "Mrs. P. was
not so sure as she was constantly deflating."

One elderly steward had been torpedoed

12 The Voyage of

seven times and after taking to the boats
had been seven times rescued by the de-
stroyers. We naturally sought the advice
of so experienced an expert. "You don't
'urry Sir, you don't 'urry, there's always
plenty of time," was his sole and philosophic
contribution to the gentle art of being tor-
pedoed. Another somewhat younger steward
handing round tea and catching the last
glimpse of land, the north-west of Ireland,
calmly remarked: "Well, this is about the
place they generally gets me." He had been
torpedoed three out of his last four trips.

We must have crossed the bar about
dinner-time, and these two words remind me
that in spite of certain obvious discomforts,
there were very substantial comforts on
board. We had left, as we were told to do,
our various ration-coupons on the dock at
the port of embarkation, and crossing the
gangway arrived in a ship flowing with milk
and honey — a ship of sweetness and in parts

A Vice-Chancellor 13

of light. We were given white bread, lots
of cream, real butter, Stilton cheese, sugar
— even lump sugar — any amount of mar-
malade or jam, quantities of fruit, not only-
apples — if Eva had lived in 1918 I don't
believe she would have wangled Adam with
an apple — ^but grapefruit, melons, oranges,
pears, grapes, nuts, etc., etc. One couldn't
help feeling with the fat boy in Pickwick,
"How we shall enjoy ourselves at meals."

We dropped down the river that evening
in the foggy darkness and then!

Monday, September 30th

On coming on deck on Monday I
came on to one of the most glorious and
fascinating scenes I have ever seen. The
sun was shining brilliantly, the dancing sea
was a perfect blue with glistening white
caps. To the left lay Rathlin Island and the
shimmering coast of Antrim, to the right

14 The Voyage of

Jura and Islay, a fitting and satisfying
setting for the centre of the stage which was
occupied by our amazing convoy. We had
been told we were the largest convoy that
had left our shores, but then we had been
told so many things! Anyway, here in the
blue sunshine and on the dancing sea was
a score of great ships, and such ships I They
were painted in every colour of the prism
and in every variety of inconsecutive and
inchoate pattern. Solomon in all his glory
was not so variegated as any one of these
amazing vessels, though doubtless his colour
scheme was more coherent.

To explain these bizarre and dazzling
things it is necessary to make a brief excursus
into that manner of art known as Cubism.
I do not propose to say anything about the
Cubfst's pictures, for I never could see any-
thing in them, but what I conceive to have
happened is this : the Cubists (or perhaps the
most Cubic of them) said to themselves,


A Vice-Chancellor 15

"There are a very large number of average,
ordinary, dull people in this world who see
nothing in our pictures, therefore to those
people there is nothing to see and therefore
to them they are invisible." When the war
broke out these Cubists, who are as patriotic
as they are commercially capable, said, "If
to the average, ordinary, dull person our
pictures are invisible, could we not by paint-
ing the British ships in our manner render
them invisible, say, to the commander of a
U-boat who in matters of art probably is
an average, ordinary, dull individual?" At
any rate the Cubists seem to have got the

But however it came about we owe grati-
tude to some one for providing us with so
radiantly beautiful a sight. At first we
seemed to be moving in regular formation,
keeping our distance and our time, but soon
we changed the formation. We, as it were,
now set to partners, we advanced towards

i6 The Voyage of

our neighbours and then coyly (or shyly)
retired; at one time it seemed to me we were
playing Roger de Coverley, "up the middle
and down the sides," zigzagging and pirouet-
ting across the ocean. The whole thing was
so exhilarating, so fantastic! Yet behind
its grotesque and fascinating beauty — which
put all the scenes of Chu Chin Chow or any
Granville Barker scenery into the shade, for
we were living, moving, vibrating — one felt
such an amazing reality of Britain's power
and might. A sea-plane flew over us, one of
our own. I wish the Kaiser had been in it.

All this time we were encompassed about
and shepherded by numerous destroyers who
tore up and down on every side spying out
the seas. They were not camouflaged but
grey-coloured and seemed so small that one
felt that if they had come within reach one
could have stretched a hand over the taffrail
and picked them up. We were distressed
that there was no way of thanking them for

A Vice-Chancellor 17

their services. No more monotonous, more
dangerous, more uncomfortable life is there
than that led by all ratings on these con-
voying craft. What they do should be more
fully and more publicly recognized.

In reading an unknown poet, at any rate
unknown to me, the other day, I came across
a poem — No. 13 — whose first line so har-
monised with my views about these wonder-
ships that I venture to quote it:


Eager to know more about one whose appre-
ciations so happily coincided with my own
views on "camouflage," I hastily turned to
the note contributed by our Laureate:

Poem 13. PIED BEAUTY. Curtal Sonnet:
sprung paeonic rhythm. St. Beuno's Tremeir-
chion. Summer "77" Autograph in A. — B

"Faint but pursuing" for I felt I must know
at least who and when my bard was, I

1 8 The Voyage of

turned to the author's preface. He at least
might know. Here I found that poem
number 13 is a Curtal-Sonnet

constructed in proportions resembling those of the

sonnet proper, namely 6, 4 instead of 8, 6, with

however a half line tailpiece (so that the equation

1 12 , o 21 ,.

IS rather h = — = lof).


I had hoped to find the personality of a poet,
but I stumbled against what looked like an
equation of an immature algebraist.

Tuesday, October ist

We closed the day in the centre of
a marine fairy scene, we awoke next morn-
ing and found we had been dreaming. A
cold wet morning, a heavy sea, no trace of
the convoy, all the ships scattered on their
several occasions, the destroyers racing back
to port only to turn round and start off again
to escort another convoy out.

Owing to my having forgotten to put back

A Vice-Chancellor 19

my watch over night ^^ minutes, I got up
one hour before I had meant to. This vexed
me quite a bit; first, because I had to live
over again an hour that I had thought satis-
factorily disposed of, secondly, because
breakfast was not ready, and then I reflected
if this mischance had happened to me in my
own University, where I really ought to have
been, how easily could I have reached the
Senate House by 9.30 a.m. without any un-
due effort. About the time I should have been
reading my annual address to the Members
of the Senate we passed a large convoy going

It grew duller and rougher and for the
rest of to-day, as the poet has it, "a gentle
pensiveness my soul possessed."

Wednesday, October 2nd

I think the Bishop — for we have a
Bishop, and a Monsignore and a chaplain,

20 The Voyage of

and several padres, a poet, an oil-man, a
play-writer, several members of the Cana-
dian Siberian Commission, lots of flying men
and five Japanese on board — in fact just the
ordinary crowd of men (there are only men,
why aren't there children^) whom one is used
to meeting on liners. The Bishop was argu-
ing yesterday that there could be no news if
there was no one to read it — I think the
Bishop must be an idealist. His talk re-
minded me of Ronny Knox's poem:

There was a young man who said, God !
It surely to you must seem odd

That a tree as a tree

Simply ceases to be
If there's no one about in the quad.

Well, to-day we received Monday's
French and American communiques and we
read them, so there was news — and it was

The Captain told us that our convoy had
been attacked by U-boats but, as the modern

A Vice-Chancellor 21

phrase goes, there was "nothing doing." The
news that we had been attacked so cheered
our pessimist that he had an extra course at

Thursday, October 3rd

The worst of travelling in a boat
primarily designed for freight, and which
is carrying no freight — we had barely a
hundred tons on board — is that the thing
becomes light-headed. There was a heavy
swell, and all Wednesday night and all
to-day we have bobbed about in a most out-
rageous manner. Still to-day the sun is
shining. I have a great sympathy with those
folk who worship the sun. We sighted a
ship and immediately turned and fled north.
Evidently the neighbourhood of ships in
these waters is unhealthy.

About the fourth day, from the upper deck
or the ship's bow, we begin to see floating

22 The Voyage of

patches of seaweed — gulfweed, or sargasso
{Sargassum hacciferum)^ as it is called. For
the most part this appears as single stems or
in small rounded heads, yellow-brown or
olive-green, awash with the surface. But, as
we proceed southward, larger masses appear.
William Beebe gives the following ac-
count of the gulfweed in The Atlantic
Monthly (October, 1918, p. 477):

An amazing amount of fiction and nonsense
has been written about the sargasso-weed, but
the truth is actually more unbelievable. Though
we see it in such immense patches, and' although
for days the ocean may be flecked with the scat-
tered heads of the weed, yet it is no more at home
in mid-ocean than the falling leaves in autumn
may claim as their place of abode the breeze
which whirls them about, or the moss upon which
at last they come to rest. Along the coast of
Central America the sargasso-weed grows, on

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