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the one dominant feeling of every Harvard man in regard to the
new Library should be deep gratitude.

Archibald Gary Coolidge^ '87.



THE MEANING OF A GREAT LIBRARY.

This noble gift to learning comes to us with the shadow of a
great sorrow resting upon it. Unbidden there arises in our minds
the thought of Lyddas, with all the glory of youth about him, the
victim of

. . . that ftitid and peifidiooi bark
Built in th' eoltpse, and rigged with cnnea dark,
That sank so low that saored head of thine.

But with the march of the years, which have devoured past gen-
erations, and to which we too shall succumb, the shadow of grief
will pass, while the great memorial will remain. It is a monument
to a lover of books, and in what more gracious guise than this can
a man's memory go down to a remote posterity ? He is the bene-
factor and the exemplar of a great host, for within that ample
phrase all gather who have deep in their hearts the abiding love
of books and literature. They meet there upon common ground
and with a like loyalty, from the bibliomaniac with his measured
leaves, to the homo unius libri; from the great collector with the
spoils of the world-famous printers and binders spread around
him, to the poor student, who appeals most to our hearts, with all
the immortalities of genius enclosed in some battered, shilling
volumes crowded together upon a few shabby shelves.

But the true lovers of books are a goodly company one and all.
No one is excluded except he who heaps up volumes of large
cost with no love in his heart, but only a cold desire to gratify a
whim of fashion, or those others who deal in the books of the past
as if they were postage stamps or bric-a-brac, as if they were soul-
less, senseless things, who speculate in them, build up artificial
prices for great authors and small alike, and make the articles in
which they traffic mere subjects of greed while they trade on the
human weakness for the unique, even when the unique is destitute



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82 The Meaning of a Great Library. [September,

of any other value. Such as these last might well find a place
among the enemies of books described by Mr. Blades. This com-
mercialism which sees in books nothing but money, and prizes
them solely by the fantastic heights to which the prices can be
pushed in the auction room, whether the object be worthy or
worthless, has of late not a little discredited one very beautiful
and attractive side in the collection of books, the side which con-
cerns the form rather than the contents, but which has neverthe-
less an enduring charm. Yet because we recoil from seeing a
fortune paid for a mere specimen of printing, of slight intrinsic
value and of no literary value at all, in that precise form, it does
not follow that we should therefore reject all gathering-in of first
editions as a, trivial and uselessly expensive amusement.

No lover of books, to take the most salient example possible,
can fail to long for the first folio as well as the quartos of Shake-
speare's plays. Besides the sentiment which any one, not wholly
insensible, must feel, these most rare volumes are full of interest
and instruction, for they tell us much of the greatest genius in
literature. The first edition, as a rule, although not in Shakespeare's
case, brings with it the pleasant thought that just in this form and
in no other did it come from the press to him who created it. There
is a happy satisfaction, too, in the knowledge that we have in our
hand the volume which some well-loved author has held in his, if
only to write his name upon the fly-leaf, for in this way there
vibrates across the dead years a delicate sense of personal contact
with its appealing touch of human sympathy. Then, far beyond
the reach of most of us, are the books of hours and devotion, so
beautiful in their illuminations, and the marvels of the old binders,
dear to us not only as examples of an artistic craft, but because
they are charged with historical associations which go deeper and
carry us further away from everyday life than all the fine-drawn
tracery of the master workman who wrought the manifold devices.
Of these rarities and wonders in the world of books, these first
editions, these specimens of a lovely and bygone art, these worn
and shabby volumes with their priceless notes on the margin, and
their well-remembered names penned or pencilled upon the fiy^
leaves, there comes to us a collection which is the most intimate
and personal part of this great gift. They speak to us most di-
rectly, as they will to succeeding generations, of the young lover



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1915.] The Meaning of a Great Library. 83

of books so untimelj taken, to whose memory this library, which
encloses them, has been erected. The University is fortunate,
indeed, when it receives at the same moment this stately building
and snch a collection of rare and precious volumes to grace its
inner shrine.

But this library, where all the aocnmulations of the University
will have a dwelling-place, has a significance which goes beyond
that of which I h9,ve spoken. No other university, and scarcely any
State or nation, possesses a library building so elaborately arranged
as this, so fitted with every device which science and ingenuity
can invent for the use of books by scholars and students. This is
preeminently a student's library. It is not forced, as the Library
of Congress has been until very lately, to absorb two copies of
every pamphlet and of every book which obtains a copyright, a
vast torrent of the ephemeral and the valueless upon which, rari
nantea in gurgite vasto^ are born the comparatively small number
of books worthy of preservation. It is not bound by tradition, like
the British Museum, to find house room for every printed thing
which myriads of presses pour out upon a wearied world. No
general public with its insatiable demand for what are so charm-
ingly described as ^^ Juveniles and Fiction " can compel it to pm>
chase ^^ best sellers," which flutter their brief hour in gaudy paper
wrappers upon the news-stands and book-stalls, and then are seen
no more. In a time when Job's supplication that his adversary
would write a book has no longer any meaning, because not only
all adversaries but all friends write books, the library of the
university has the fine freedom which permits it to devote itself
to only two kinds of books — the literature of knowledge and the
literature of imagination.

Within the wide, far-stretching boundaries of the first, much is
included. We begin with the books of simple information, reposi-
tories of facts, like statistics, newspapers and official records, des-
titute of literary quality, but all important as the material in
which the investigator makes his discoveries and from which the
thinker and the philosopher draw their deductions. The true
literature of knowledge is very different. Its scope is vast, and we
find within it all the sciences and all the arts, history, philosophy
in every form, metaphysics, and certain kinds of criticism. Litera-
ture here is the handmaid of knowledge; too often a very



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84 Hie Meaning of a Great Library. [September,

neglected, dim, and attenuated handmaiden, but sometimes quite
as important as the instruction* which she brings with her to the
minds of men. The scale ranges from a scientific work, perhaps
of high importance, in which words are treated merely as a neces-
sary vehicle for the transmission of thought, to writings like those
of Thucydides, Tacitus, or Gibbon, which are monuments of
literature even more than they are histories of man's doings upon
earth. Indeed, as we approach the highest examples in the litera-
ture of knowledge, we are gpradually merged in the achievements
of pure literature.

When we read Plato we pass insensibly from the philosophy,
the social and economic speculations, to the realm of poetry, and
few passages in all literature have greater beauty, are more im-
aginative than the famous description of the Cave or the dream
of the lost Atlantis. Then there are the great autobiographies,
like St Augustine, Rousseau, Franklin, Pepys, Casanova, and
Benvenuto Cellini, which almost alone have succeeded in making
men who have lived as real to us as those created by the poet or
the novelist, and in addition there is that other autobiography
called ^^ Lavengro," where we wander to and fro upon the earth
in happy uncertainty as to whether what we read is fact or fancy.
Hovering in the debatable ground between the two great divisions
of literature, we meet the essayists, as they are inadequately
called, as few in number as they are charming and attractive.
Montaigne, La Bruydre, Addison, Charles Lamb, and Dr. Holmes
are there to greet us. Wit and wisdom, knowledge and reflection,
mingle with the creations of imagination and defy classification.
We only know that we love them, these friends of the sleepless
and the watchers, who will delight us for hours, and never be
offended or less fascinating if we give them only scattered and
unregarded minutes. By such pleasant paths as these we pass
easily, smoothly, unconsciously almost, from the literature of
knowledge to the literature of imagination, to the beautiful region
where knowledge is not imposed upon us, but subtly conveyed,
where facts are in truth wholly ^^ unconceming," and where liter*
ature in its finest sense is all in all. Here one stops, hesitates,
feels helpless. What profit is there in an effort to describe in
minutes what we find in this vast, enchanted land, when lifetimes
are all too short to tell its wonders.



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1916.] I%e Meaning of a Great Library. 35

We cannot cover literature with a phrase or define it in a sen-
tence. The passage in a great writer which comes nearest to do-
ing this is one which I met for the first time nearly fifty years
since. Twenty-five years ago I should have hesitated to quote it
because it was familiar to every school-boy. I hesitate to quote
it now because I fear it will appeal only to elderly persons whose
early education was misdirected. I must confess that it is written
in one of the languages which are conventionally described as
^^dead," because convention has no sense of humor. Strangely
enough it appears in a legal argument made in behalf of a Greek
man of letters whose citizenship was contested, and no court in
history has ever listened to a plea which was at once so noble. in
eloquence and so fine as literature. I am old-fashioned enough
to think that it possesses qualities far beyond the reach of any
utilitarian touchstone and well worthy of fresh remembrance.
The words I am about to quote have that combination of splendor
and concision in which Latin surpasses all other tongues.

Thus, then, Cicero spoke in behalf of Archias, summoning books
and libraries, literature and learning, to the support of his client :

H<EC studia adoUsceniiam alurU, ienectutem oblecUmtf secundcu res omanif ad-
venis perfugium ac solaHum prcBberU, delectarU domi, nan impediunt forisy pemoo
Umt nobiscwn^ pereffrinantw, rusticantur.

How fine and full it is ! Yet there is still, I think, something
more.

Dr. Johnson, who is described by Boswell's uncle as ^* a robust
genius bom to grapple with whole libraries," and who said as many
good things about literature as almost any one in history, asked
once in his emphatic way, ^^ What should books teach but the art
of living ? " This does not differ in essence from Matthew Ar-
nold's famous dictum that poetry, the highest form of literature,
must be a criticism of life. Both are admirable, both inadequate.
When we enter the wide domain of the literature of imagination
we find ourselves among the greatest minds which humanity has
produced, so g^at, so different from all others, that we are fain
to give them a name we cannot define, and call them geniuses.
There we are among the poets, the makers, the singers. All are
there from the author of the book of Job and the writers of the
Psalms and the Song of Songs, onward to the glory that was



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86 The Meaning (>f a Ghreat Library. [September,

Greece ; onward still to Lucretius and Horace and Catullus and
Virgil ; onward still to him whom Virgil led, who covered all Italy
with his hood ; onward to the ^^ chief of organic numbers," and
still onward to the poets of the last century and of our own time,
for although poetry waxes and wanes, it can never pass wholly
away. There, too, we find the great poets who were also dramatists,
who created the men and women who never lived and will never
die, whom we know better than any men or women of history who
once had their troubles here upon earth. There we meet and know
so well Hector and Achilles, Helen and Andromache, upon the
plains of Troy, where, alast men are fighting savagely today.
We wander over the wine-dark sea with Ulysses and listen to
some of the greatest stories ever written.

We come down the ages and find ourselves in the time of Shake-
speare, of whom it may be said as the great Roman critic said of
Menander, ^^ Omnem vitcB imaginem eocpressit^^* and then we can
go forth in the company of Cervantes's knight and squire, with the
humor and sadness, the laughter and tears of humanity traveling
with them. Nearly two centuries more go by and we are in the
company of Faust, tasting the temptations of the world, the flesh
and the devil, touchiug the whole of humanity in its lusts, its pas-
sions, and its weaknesses, and if well-breathed we can journey on
into the realm of speculation and philosophy and mysticism, and
gaze once more upon

The faoe tliat Unnohed a thousand ahipa,
And bnmt the toplen towen of IHiim.

So we come to the era of the novelists and there are made free of
another world of people among whom we find the friends and com-
panions of our lives. They are always with us, ready at our call,
and we can never lose them.

These are some of the aspects, some of the inevitable sugges-
tions of a library, of a great collection of books. In this place, in
this spacious building, they offer one of the best assurances a uni-
versity can have of strength and fame and numbers, for a great
library ^raws men and women in search of education as a garden
of flowers draws the bees. Carlyle, indeed, went even further when
he said, ^^ The true university of these days is a collection of books."
Such a library as this is not only a pillar of support to learning,
but it is a university in itself.



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1915.] The Meaning of a Great Library. 87

I have spoken of it tlins far aa it appears here in its primary
capacity, in its first great function as a student's library, to which
not only students old and young will come, but to which the his-
torian and the man of science, the scholar, the teacher and the
professor, the poet, the novelist, and the philosopher will repair.
A splendid service this to render to mankind. But there is still
something more, an attribute of the library which is as wide as
humanity, for books are the records of all that we know of human
deeds and thoughts, of the failures, the successes, the hopes, the
aspirations of mankind. ^ Books,'* sidd Dr. Johnson, ^ help us to
enjoy life or teach us to endure it." Here, as to all great collec-
tions of books, as to all books anywhere which have meaniog and
quality, come those who never write, who have no songs to sing,
no theories ^th which they hope to move or to enlighten the world,
men and women who love knowledge and literature for their own
sakes and are content. Here those who toil, those who are weary
and heavy-laden come for rest. Here among the books we can pass
out of this work-a-day world, never more tormented, more in
anguish than now, and find, for a brief hour at least, happiness,
perchance consolation, certainly another world and a blessed f or-
getfulness of the din and the sorrows which surround us. Here,
for the asking, the greatest geniuses will speak to us and we can
rise into a purer atmosphere and become close neighbors to the
stars. As an English poet writes of Shakespeare in these troubled
days:

O let hm le«?« tlM plains beliind.

And let me leare the rales below I
Into the highlands of the mind,

into the monntaias let me go.

Here axe the heights, oresfc beyond crest.

With Himalayan dews impearled ;
And I wHL wateh from Eyerest

The long heave of the surging world.

It b a great, a noble gift which brings us all this in such ample
measure and lays it at the feet of our beloved University. The
gratitude of all who love Harvard, of all who love books, goes out
from their hearts unstinted to the giver.

They mean so much, these books, so much more than I in these
halting sentences have been able to express. For there is to books
a human side inherent in the silent leaves which even Cicero omitted



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88 William Robert Ware : 1832-^1915. [September,

imd which Dr. Johnson and Matthew Arnold wholly passed by.
We find that single thought in the mind of Whitman, when he
wrote of a booh :

Camando, this is no book.

Who touches this toaehss a maoy

(Is it night ? Axe we here together alone f )

It is I yon hold and who holds yon,

I spring from the pages into yonr arms — deooaao eaPe me forth.

Rightly considered in this aspect, the books mean so mnch, jast
now, when freedom of speech, and freedom of thought, when lib-
erty and democracy are in jeopardy every hour, that I must turn
at last if I would find fit utterance to the great champion of all
these things, and repeat to you the famous sentences of Milton :

For books are not abeolately dead things, biit do oontain a poienoj of life in
them to be as actiye as that soul whose progeny they are; nay^ they do preserve
JEis in a ylal the purest efficacy and eztiaction of that living intellect that bred
them. I know they are as lively, and as vigorously productive as those &bulous
Dragon's teeth; and being sown op and down may chance to spring np armed
men. And yet, on the other hand, unless wariness is used, as good almost kill
a man as kill a good book; who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, Grod's
image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills the image of
God as it were in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the earth; but a good
book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on
purpose to a life beyond life.

Henry Cabot Lodge^ *71.



WILLIAM ROBERT WARE: 1882-1915.

William Robebt Wabe was born in Cambridge, May 27,
1832, and was the son. of the Rev. Henry Ware, Jr., and of Mary
Lovell Ware. His ancestry was of the New England type which
left to its children a heritage of high ideals and thought. Gradu-
ating at Harvard in 1852, he entered the Scientific School and
took his degree of Bachelor of Science in 1856, and the University
gave him the honor of the degree of LL.D., forty years later, in
1896. He entered into partnership with Mr. Henry Van Brunt,
and began the practice of his profession of architecture in Boston,
in 1860.

A few years later began the development of the so-called Back
Bay district of Boston, and Ware and Van Brunt designed a num-



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WILLIAM ROBERT WARE, V.2, LL.I)., 'm.



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1915.] William JRobert Ware: 1832-1916. 89

ber of buildings in this new seetion of the citj, among which was
the chnrch on Marlborough St. ; Harvard is indebted to them for
Matthews Hall and Memorial HalL Their work, in most cases, fol-
lowed English rather than French or classical tradition, and evi-
denced the studious tastes of the members of the firm.

In 1865, Mr. Ware was called to the chair of Architecture in
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and from this time was
known as the most prominent educator in architecture in America.
He was closely associated with architects abroad, and was keenly
alive to all influences which could benefit the profession here. His
work at the Institute was taken as an example for the formation
of many of the now existent schools. Many of the most distin-
guished architects of America have studied under him, and all
have honored him. He was called to Columbia College in 1881,
and again developed an admirable school at the head of which he
remained until he retired as Professor Emeritus in 1908. He was
a member of the National Society of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow
of the American Institute of Architects, and an Honorary Member
of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

At the time that Mr. Ware began to build up a school of archi-
tecture in America, the histories of architecture practically ignored
work in the United States. The Capitol at Washington, some of
the achievements of Bulfinch, and, because of their unusual char-
acter, the Mormon Temple and tabernacle at Salt Lake City were
enumerated as ^^ of interest." The delicate Colonial work was con-
sidered merely imitative of the English Greorgian style, and the
Spanish missions of California and Texas as exotic. A few Ameri-
cans were studying abroad, at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.
There was an urgent need of an American school. Mr. Ware
brought to his teaching much more than an ability to instruct,
more than a mere knowledge of the material side of his profession.
He impressed the ethics of architecture upon his pupils, appealed
to high ideals, and led them to a high plane of endeavor. Recogniz-
ing the power of the organization and the academic quality of the
£cole des Beaux Arts, he placed one of its graduates, M. Eugdne
Letang, in the position of Professor of Design at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, and thus initiated the classical and monu-
mental character of the design in the American schools. His own
attitude toward architecture was one of broad catholicity. He felt



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40 The Phi Beta Kappa Poem. [September,

it to be a profession whiob rewarded all earnest effort, and wbich
was closely related to and compassed all the arts. Under his tuition
its study became broad and eclectic, for be delighfced in many men-
tal activities, all of which in some way or another he affiliated with
his work. His teaching was an alembic which assimilated all studies,
painting, sculpture, music, literature, science, and ^^ belles-lettres,"
with architecture. But beyond all this was his warm interest in his
students which so endeared him to them, — they were his boys, his
friends ; and his personality was so fine, his philosophy so gentle
and calm, that association with him was a source of gratitude to
many. It was this personality which made his influence upon his
pupils one that could not be measured in mere terms of instruction,
but inspired the best that was in them. He practically founded the
Department of Schools of Architecture at the Massachusetts Insti-
tute of Technology, and at Columbia. He stimulated the estab-
lishment of the Department of Design at the Museum of Fine
Arts in Boston, and the Architectural Department at Harvard.
He was the teacher of many of the most distinguished artists in
America. He was closely affiliated with all architectural interests
both at home and abroad, and was constantly called upon for the
suggestions and advice of his sensitive and cultivated mind. Ar-
chitecture, in America was fortunate indeed to have as one of its
first educators a man of the fine individual quality of Mr. Ware.

C Howard Walker.



THE PHI BETA KAPPA POEM.

How shodd I sing while half the world is dying ?
Shreds of Uranian song, wild symphonies
Tortured with moans of butchered innocents,
Blow past us on the wind. Chaos resumes
His kingdom. All the visions of the world,
The visions that were music, being shaped
By law, moving in measure, treading the road
That suns and systems tread, who can hear
Their music now ? Urania bows her head.
Only the feet that move in order dance.
Only the mind attuned to that dread pulse
Of law throughout the universe can sing.



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1915.] The Phi Beta Kappa Poem. 41

Only the soul that phiys its rhythmic part

In that great measure of the tides and sans

Terrestrial and celestial^ till it soar

Into the supreme melodies of heaven.

Only that soul, dimhing the splendid road

Of law from height to height, may walk with God,

Shape its own sphere from chaos, conquer death,

Lay hold on life and liberty, and sing.

Yet, since, at least, the fleshly heart must beat
In measure, and no new rebellion breaks
That old restriction, murmurs reach it still,



Online LibraryWilliam Richards Castle William Roscoe ThayerThe Harvard graduates' magazine → online text (page 5 of 103)