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William Richards Castle William Roscoe Thayer.

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thing of the pages which had passed before his eyes. A man ignorant of
the " humanities," the '^ lUercB humaniores:' no matter what his other ac-
complishments, was considered hopelessly uneducated. The classics in
fact became a fetish which led to many absurdities among their devotees,
like that which has required successive generations of English boys to



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1915.] A Modest Plea for the ''Humanities^ 61

write Latin yerses. The verses thas composed, in metres painfully ac-
quired and quiekly forgotten, could never be otherwise than more or less
bad, and the exercise was of no more value than teaching them to com-
pose poems in Choctaw would have been. Whereas, if they had been
taught by ear to speak Latin, even in the mediaeval form, it would have
been of value always and everywhere. But in getting rid of absurdities
let us beware of losing the substance.

It is not well whoUy to forget the vast debt whieh mankind owes to
the recovery of the literature and art of Greece and Rome. It was by
no means without reason that a classical was known and is still known
as a liberal education. The mind of the Renaissance was liberalized by
the study of the classics, and what was true then is true now, for the
classical education liberalizes in the only right way by making its bene-
ficiaries respect genuine learning and knowledge of any sort wherever
found, and no matter how far removed it may be from their own. There
is no form of education which teaches this respect for the learning and
acquirements of other men in any direction, as far as my experience
goes, so surely as the classical.

It is also to be remembered that the knowledge of Greek and Latin is
necessary not only in the learned professions but in at least two great
subjects which I believe are adn^tted within the pale of the scientific
domain — philology and anthropology. Neither of these is strictly utili-
tarian nor in any way pecuniarily profitable, but the language of man
and his origin and life upon earth are thought not unworthy of scientific
consideration. This, however, is only incidental. To judge rightly the im-
portance heretofore given to the study of Greek and Latin, as well as the
reasons for not allowing them to remain in the cold shade of retirement,
to which in recent years they have been relegated, we must in justice
consider what a knowledge of the classics necessarily implies. Without
that knowledge any real mastery and thorough comprehension of modern
languages and literature is in the highest sense impossible. In fact, Greek
and Latin are the foundations of the literature of Western civilization.
Is literature, then, to be pushed aside because it is not obviously utilita-
rian and practically valuable in science, in business, or in money-making ?

Literature and art are the fine flowers of the highest civilization. As
Shakespeare has it :

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments

Of princes, shall outHre this powerful rhyme.

In literature are garnered up the thoughts which have moved the world
and guided, all unseen, the history of man. Worth more than all the
money ever piled up are the happiness, the delights, the help, which litera-
ture has brought to the children of men. A purely material existence, a



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62 A Modest Plea for the ''Humanities:' [September,

wholly material ciyilization, are joyless, for it b only the things of beauty
that are joys forever. In literature, in the creations of human imagina-
tion, are to be found the men and women, outside the little immediate
world of each one of us, whom we know and love best, whom we hate
most, whom we constantly discuss. Real men and women die, but the
men and women created by the imagination of those who *' body forth
the forms of things unknown " live always. Ulysses and Hector, Don
Quixote and Hamlet, are more real, are better known to us than any men
who lived and walked the earth and whose deeds and words fill the pages
of history. Think of the friends and companions literature has brought
to us, with whom we love to live and wander and dream the hours away.
They come in an almost endless procession, bringing with them every
emotion, sorrow and anger, love and hate, laughter, humor, adventure.
These are the gifts of literature, of the imagination of men of genius en-
dowed with the creative power, from Shakespeare with his world of men
and women out and on through all the great literature of civilized man.

Turn it as we will, proclaim the superior merits of science, which no
one reverences and admires more than I, with all its vast gifts of knowl-
edge, with all that it has devised and invented so beneficent and also so
destractive to man, as strongly as you please, vaunt not only the necessity
of mechanical industry, but the advantages of money-getting as loudly
as you can, and still even now the world admits that those to whom we
award the honor of scholarship, whom we describe as cultivated and
accomplished, must be men and women who know something, at least, of
history and art and literature. And history, art and literature, so far as
we are concerned, spring from, are related to, or contrast with, the great
civilizations of Greece and Rome. Perhaps I can put my meaning best,
and most broadly, by quoting what Walter Pater wrote of Pico della
Mirandola, a true humanist as he was one of the earliest :

The essence of humanism is the belief that nothing which has ever inter-
ested living men and women can wholly lose its vitality — no language they
have spoken, nor oracle beside which they have hushed their voiees, no dream
which has once been entertained by actual human minds, nothing about which
they have ever been passionate, or expended time and zeaL

Here, perhaps, we may learn why it is that no man who has not come
in contact, at least, even if the contact was only that of a schoolboy, with
those great literatures, and with that history through whose portals we
must pass in order to reach the wonderful civilizations of Egypt and
Asia Minor, would ever be called a scholar, using the word in its
loosest sense, or a cultivated man in the world's acceptance of the phrase.
Thus much power the now decried classics still retain, but it is easier to
proceed by negatives in fixing their degree of importance than to give



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1915-] A Modest Plea for the ""Humanitiesr 68

an exact definition of the educated man who is expected, at least, to
know them hy name. Mere classical erndition is now clearly inade-
quate ; a knowledge howeyer saperficial, of the humanities, which was
once regarded as all-sufficient, will no longer serve. I shall not at-
tempt this task, but will content myself with quoting a definition which
I lately heard from one of the wisest, most learned, and most widely ac-
complished men I have ever known. You will observe that it is only a
limitation, a statement, if you pleiase, of the irreducible minimum of
cultivation. He said :

No one can be called a cultivated num who does not know, in addition to his
own literature, Homer, Cervantes, and the ** Arabian Nights,'' and compara-
tively few persons fulfil this condition.

These requirements may seem unusual and very limited. But we must
eonsider their implications before we hastily dismiss them. Homer im-
plies a knowledge of Greek, and therefore of Latin. Cervantes created
the greatest single figure of literature outside the world of Shakespeare
and surpassed by very few within it Men first perceived the comic side
of the adventures, the homely sayings of Sancho, the humorous contrast
between the knight and the squire. But as the years have passed by we have
come to see in Don Quixote one of the rare, cosmic characters which touch
all humankind. Dr. Johnson names '^ Don Quixote " as one of the three
books, written by mere men, which any reader ever wished were longer.
The reason for this great compliment is not far to seek, for in *' Don
Quixote " we behold the aspirations of humanity with all their delusions
and mistakes, their infinite pathos, their nobility, and their tragic disap-
pointments. But we are concerned, just now, with implications rather
than the work itself. A knowledge of '^ Don Quixote " and of Cervantes
implies a knowledge of the Renaissance in Europe and of the conditions
which brought to life and beauty the greatest work of Spanish genius.

The last requirement of my friend, the " Arabian Nights," may seem
odd. We are all brought up to think of them as fairy stories admirably
suited to the entertainment of children. If, however, we examine the
originals, not only expurgated but enormously curtailed for the benefit of
the nursery, we find these rambling tales filled with poems and philo-
sophical discussions. Just here, however, my friend has high authority
with him. Gibbon says : —

I soon tasted the ** Arabian Nights ^ — a book of all ages, since in my pres-
ent maturity I can revolve, without contempt, that pleasant medley of Oriental
manners and supernatural fictions.

As Thackeray once remarked : —

There can be no gainsaying the sentence of that great judge. To have your



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64 27ie Race at New London. [September,

name mentioned by Gibbon is like having it written on the Dome of St. Peter's.
Pilgrims from all the worid admire and behold it

To be versed in the <^ Arabian Nights,'* thos approyed by Gibbon, im-
plies also some knowledge of the philosophy, the poetry, and the manners
of the East, opening in many directions, vistas over which we most not
linger. I will only pause long enough to find my conclusion in one of these
Oriental tales.

Although it is not included in the accepted canon of the <' Thousand and
One Nights," perhaps the most famous and most familiar of the Arabian
tales is the story of Aladdin. You all remember how, after he had built
his palace and married his princess, the wicked magician came along and
persuaded Aladdin's wife to change the old lamp for a new one. As a
child, being behind the scenes and knowing the properties of the old
lamp, I used to think the poor princess a very silly woman. In later
years I have seen reason to revise that judgment about the princess, and
to find palliating explanations for her unhappy mistake. If we take the
trouble to consider and reflect, we shall find much wisdom concealed in
these fairy tales. The wicked magician was an astute person, with large
knowledge of the world, and of both man and womankind. When he
offered the new lamp for the old he appealed to two of the strongest of
human emotions, the earnest desire we all have to get something for
nothing, and the passion for novelty. He knew his princess, and he ob-
tained the old, battered, rusty lamp. We need not follow the story fur-
ther. In the end virtue triumphed, and vice was defeated, as ought to be
the case in every good fairy story. But in the little transaction which I
have just described, there is, I think, one of those morals which the
Arabian tale-tellers were also fond of hiding here and there in their nar-
ratives. It is a very simple lesson, and teaches us that it is, perhaps, well to
deliberate before we throw away an old lamp, for that very one may pos-
sess a magic which is not to be found in its new and glittering successor.

Henry Cabot Lodge^ '71.



THE RACE AT NEW LONDON.

Of the forty-eight races which had been rowed between Harvard and
Tale each college had won twenty-four, until Yale so easily captured the
race in New London on June 25.

Never was New London more crowded ; never were the throngs more
eager or more gay in color ; never had there been more uncertainty as to
the outcome of the races. The odds were slightly in favor of Harvard,
why no one could say, except that perhaps Harvard's reputation of the



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1916.] The Race at New London. 66

last few years had saryived the test of the << one inch " defeat of 1914.
And the great subsequent victory of the Second Crew at Henley had
wiped away even that memory. So people from all oyer the country
jostled and pushed good-uaturedly, were duly thankful for anything they
could secure to eat and diink, discussed chances with apparent wisdom
and certain belief in their own prognostications. Harvard men, however,
were by no means invariably certain of the outcome. They acknowledged
that Yale had a wonderful crew ; they admitted that Nickalls's ability as
coach was probably very great, if not yet thoroughly tested. A few, who
had watched the practice, pointed out the fact that Yale put tremendous
power into the first half of the stroke ; that Harvard seemed to get power
only at the end, just before the oars left the water. This seemed to them
a dangerous symptom and made them gloomy. But on the whole there were
very few pessimists among the Harvard crowds, which were, if possible,
even larger and gayer than the Yale crowds. £very one was convinced
that, whatever the outcome, it would be a great race, a hotly contested
race like that of the preceding year. The victory of the Yale Second
Varsity in the morning had not disheartened them. That, after all, was
not indicative of Varsity results, one way or the other, and it had been a
good race.

Everything at the starting-point was propitious when the observation
.trains reached there in the mid-afternoon. The weather was ideal, clear
and sunny, and that in itself increased the good cheer. The river seemed
more than ever before thronged with gayly decorated boats, and sailors
from the battleship Utah^ moored below the finish, gave an unusual touch
to the scene, a suggestion of at least some national preparedness that was
not unpleasant even on this one day when, for a short time, it was
possible to forget the war. At 5.18 the Harvard launch came down
the river ; the men climbed into their shell, and, after a few final words
from Wray, pulled into place on the east side of the course. Yale was a
little late in appearing, as so often happens, but at 5.35 the Yale crew
came in sight, rowing with a long, leisurely, perfectly rhythmic stroke,
that was already suggestive of power. At 5.43 the report of the referee's
pistol sounded and the race was off.

Usually the cheering starts instantly, but this time there was complete
silence. Even Yale was apparently too astonished to shout when the Yale
boat started with a magnificent leap before Harvard's oars had touched
the water, an initial spurt which put Yale almost immediately a half-
length ahead. Whether coaching can teach it or not may be a question,
but certainly there was an instant, automatic response of Yale mind and
muscle to the crack of the referee's pistol that was little short of marvel-
ous, and that sent the shell darting through the water almost before Har-



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66 The Race at New London. [September,

vard realised that the signal had been given* Yale did not win the race
in that initial sport, as many people said ; any weakening later would
have given the Harrard crew the Tictory. Bat there was no sabseqaent
weakening, as there was no overstraining. Within a few minutes it was
clear that unless the unexpected should happen, Yale would win. The
rest of the course was a deepening tragedy for the Harvard spectators,
an orgy of joy for the supporters of Yale. The neutral onlooker would
have found the race very dull, except as he must have delighted in tlie
clean, beautiful rowing of the Yale crew, and in the dauntless determi-
nation at least to *' die game " of the Harvard crew.

The history of the race b hardly more than the monotonous record of
gradually increasing distances between the two boats. The hope that at
first the Harvard coxswain was simply saving his men for a great later
effort soon ceased to be a hope. It was only too dear that the coxswain
was urging his men to do all they could and that they were responding
to the limit of their strength. Even at the start Har^ird was rowing a
faster stroke than Yale, 36 to Yale's 34. At the quarter-mile mark Yale
was a length ahead ; at the half this lead had been increased another
half-length. At the mile mark, which Yale reached in 4.40 and Harvard
in 4.45, Yale was a full two lengths ahead. When the two-mile nuurk was
reached, Yale had increased her lead to three lengths, and both crews
were stroking 32 to the minute. Yale gained another length in the course
of the next mile and was still by no means doing her best. Two lengths
more increased the lead at three and one half miles to six lengths, and at
the finish the Yale boat crossed the line fully eight lengths ahead. Har-
vard rowed gamely to the end, as is the nature of Harvard crews, and
when the whistles were blowing and the crowds yelling, the defeated men
turned toward the Yale crew and gave them a lusty cheer.

No graduate will attach any blame to a crew that did its level best
No eight men could have worked harder, and it was almost impossible to
understand at the time why their mighty efforts had no effect in cutting
down that ever-widening expanse of water between the boats. They were
helpless behind the magnificent Yale machine that, from beginning to
end, worked so smoothly, so accurately, with such tremendous power.
The crowds, most of whom dispersed before the late Freshman race was
rowed, had only praise for the courage of the crew, downhearted as they
were at the result. And Yale was so jubilant that, as one man said, '^ You
could n't hear yourself being sad, anyhow."

Since the race there has, of course, been an endless stream of graduate
discussion, and a good deal of rather bitter criticism, most of it futile,
because destructive and without any constructive suggestions. '' We can't
keep on with Wray. He has proved his inefficiency." This is the kind of
stupid remark that one often hears. It has been acting on this kind of re-



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1915.] The Race at New London. 67

mark that has, more than once in the past, injured Harvard athletics. When
Percy Haoghton was unsnceessfol we heurd the same kind of statement
— and yet, now, what graduate woald be willing to give np Haughton so
long as he is willing to coach the team ? We forget, how many winning
crews Jim Wray has sent to New London. We forget that other factors
besides coaching are important — if they were not, of what nse would
athletic contests be ? The Tale crew of this year was probably actoally a
better crew than the Harrard, for certainly crews cannot be always equal
in strength or rowing ability. Nickalls undoubtedly is a great coach, per-
haps the greatest in the world, as eyery one said after the race, but that
is no reason for crying out that we must immediately discharge a good
coach because Yale has a better one. The whole question is one which
mnstobTiously be gone into calmly and carefully from every point of view,
and the graduate who b not sure which end of the oar should go into the
water is surely not the one whose snap judgment should be accepted as
finaL What we laymen must remember now is that the rowing authorities
want to win just as much as we do ; that in recent years we have had
wonderful success at New London ; that the race this year was won by a
marvelous crew and was lost by a crew that showed no sign of let^p even
when there was no chance to catch the Yale boat.

Harvard University Eight

Bow— H.A.lCvinj|JrM*lB(Clftpt.),ltawTork.. 23 170 6.01

3— D.P. MorgAn, 16,NewTork 20 176 5.10

8— T. E. StobbiiiB, 'n.NewTork 20 172 6.0SH

4~D. Hwwood, '15, Nawton 22 179 6.02V%

5— J. W.Middaodorf, 16,Baltl]iu>i« 20 188 6.01

6— K. O. B. Paraon, *16, ProTidanoe 21 182 6.02%

7— H.B. Cttbot, '17,BrookliiM 20 174 5.104£

8tar«k«—C. 0. Lnnd, *16, Boston 20 170 6.01

€0K— H.L.F.Kns«r,n6,lUifleld,Me. 22 113 5.06

ATMWce w«lght oC eight, 175% poimdik



YdU Vhivereiiy Eight



Agt Wi. SU



Bow — C.J. Ooe,V«irTork 21 168 6.01

2— O.Beiiiiitt,Miiafl«ld 21 171 6.01^

8 — 8.Low,NowTork7 22 174 5.10

4— J. R.Sh6ldon,Jr.,a«nai]uai,0» 21 182 6.00

6— A. D. 6tart«nuit(Gftpt.),WMliingtoii,D.a 21 178 6.02

6 — O.lfeyar, Great Keck, L.1 20 172 6.01^

7— G. D.Wlnns,MoUne,m 28 175 6.01VI

8troke-A.lCorae,Green]awii,N.T 24 156 5.08

Cox— A. McLuie, Jr., Oftrriaon, Md 20 127 5.07

At«ZBge weight of eight, 172 ponndf.

Officialtime

Manard Tals

m, «. m. «.

HMUe 2 8Mi 2 5

1 Mile 445 440

l^Miles 7 34 7 27^

2 Miiee 10 14 10 5

2%lHlee 12 52 12 39%

8 Miles 1689 15 27

S^MOee 18 40 18 22

Finidi 21 13H 20 62

Conns, npstnam ; Hsnrmrd rowed on the wast side.



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68 The End of the Tear. [September,

THE UNIVERSITY.

THE END OF THE YEAR.

The plan for the choice of electiye stadias which fras adopted shortly

after the inauguration of President Lowell has now completed its fifth

How the new year of operation. Sufficient statistical and other evidence

l^lJJ^^lg as to the working of the plan ought to be now available,

wockliiff therefore, for passing some judgments upon it. Has the

new scheme succeeded in making Harvard undergraduates plan their

studies more carefully and more wisely ? Has it brought them to a point

where, to use President Lowell's own words, ^ the man who obtains a

Harvard A.B. is sure of knowing a little about many things aud one

thing well " ? And yet another question is continually being put forward

by the older alumni : How have the new rules for the choice of elective

studies affected the classics or the mathematical and natural sciences ?

Has the abolition of the old policy of free election increased or reduced

the resort of students to these last-named subjects of study ?

Some of these questions can be answered very readily ; the reply to
others is not so easy. To some extent light is thrown on all of them by
the following table which shows the choice of studies made by Harvard
undergraduates during each of the last five years by the classes of 1914-
18 respectively.

From the tabulation on p. 69, it will be seen that the Class of 1914, whose
members prepared their programs of study in the spring of 1911, showed
a surprising partiality for Group III as their field of concentration. Let
it be explained parenthetically, for the benefit of those who are not con*
versant with all the details of the plan, that an undergraduate must elect
at least six courses in one of the above groups, of which at least four must
be in a single subject. For example, a student may elect his six courses
for concentration in the group which includes Philosophy, Mathematics
and Social Ethics, of which four of his courses might be in Philosophy.
Tlie group and subject thus selected is commonly known as the student's
" field of concentration."

But to return to the Class of 1914. In the spring of 1911, that is to
say, towards the close of their Freshman year, the members of this cfass
handed in programs of study which showed an overwhelming preference
for History, Government, Economics and allied subjects. Approximately
46 per cent chose to " concentrate " in this group, leaving only slightly
more than half the entire class to be divided among the three other
groups. This action gave rise to many misgivings, not only among the



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1915.]



TheFndoftAe Tear.



69



Qnmpl



Semitlca.

ClAMlCt..



BonuuiM Langiuiges. ...
CompantiTe Litexatnre.
Hifltory and Litentnre .

FlnaAzta

Mnaio

Arcliitactiire .



1914



Luideqiutely ezpnMed as '
'GroopI"..



'Modern Ijuw



giiagea"or *



Totid.



Group II



Biology.

0«)logy

Inadequately ezpreaied as " Group II "

•« Natural Sdenoee"

Special Sdentliic oombinatioaa........



Total

OfwpIII

History

Ckyremment.

Boonomics

Anthropology

Inadequately expreesed

TWal

Group IV

PhOoaophy

Hstliematlca....

Bodal Ethics



TotaL

Totals of Claasea.



Group I . . .
Group n..
Group III.
Group IV..



Pereentaget




12
42

9
46

3

9
12

9



166



4
38
66

14
6

2





U8



41
26
133

1



12
619



SO



46

2



Clauqf



1916



74
14
89
12
4
14
6




186



7

72
48
12

4


3



141



60

33

132

2





217



9
21




30
673



32

25



1916



1

14
98



3

18
3




47

8
2



124



24

127







203



27
682



39
21
36
6



1917





13

153

23

46

4
1
16



13
72
36
11
2






134



23

87

n

2



138



6
19




24
669



47
24



1918




21
133
26
53


10
16

6





1
71
44

12

4


8



136



36

42

114

1

3



196



IS

22



Online LibraryWilliam Richards Castle William Roscoe ThayerThe Harvard graduates' magazine → online text (page 8 of 103)