So ran the phrase the black-robed conclave chose
To guard the sacred cloisters that arose
Like David's altar on Moriah's rock.
Unshaken still those ancient arches mock
The ram's-horn summons of the windy foes
Who stand like Joshua's army while it blows
And wait to see them toppling with the shock.
Christ and the Church. Their church, whose narrow door
Shuts out the many, who if over-bold
Like hunted wolves were driven from the fold,
Bruised with the flails those godly zealots bore,
Mindful that Israel's altar stood of old
Where echoed once Araunah's threshing-floor.
1648. "VERITAS." 1878.TRUTH: So the frontlet's older legend ran,
On the brief record's opening page displayed;
Not yet those clear-eyed scholars were afraid
Lest the fair fruit that wrought the woe of man
By far Euphrates, - where our sire began
His search for truth, and seeking, was betrayed,
Might work new treason in their forest shade,
Doubling the curse that brought life's shortened span.
Nurse of the future, daughter of the past,
That stern phylactery best becomes thee now;
Lift to the morning star thy marble brow!
Cast thy brave truth on every warring blast!
Stretch thy white hand to that forbidden bough,
And let thine earliest symbol be thy last!
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES.February 21, 1878.
The spirit has moved Dr. Samuel Osgood to write a letter on the question to the New York Times, and Dr. Osgood's letter has moved Mr. Sargent, the president of the Club, to answer it in the same paper. The former gentleman defends the present seal, on the ground that
"while the spirit of the institution is unsectarian, and able ministers have gone from its walks into Roman Catholic, Congregational, Episcopalian, Baptist, and Unitarian churches, a positive and practical Christian influence is exerted upon the students; and one of the most learned, wise, and earnest men, the Rev. Dr. A. P. Peabody, is professor of Christian morals, and to all intents and purposes the chaplain of students and their adviser and friend."
In his reply, Mr. Sargent observes, that Harvard was in former times "to many intents a mere theological school," and was founded for the support of the profession of theology. Now that young men are trained for the other liberal professions as well, there is little propriety, he says, in the "Ecclesiae." Dr. Osgood says in his letter that he is "authorized to say that there is no purpose or wish on the part of the College to change its seal"; and Mr. Sargent pertinently remarks: -
"In the absence of any action by the College on this subject, - first brought before the alumni by Dr. O. W. Holmes in his letter to the Harvard Club of this city, at their recent annual dinner - I am not aware that any one can be 'authorized' to say that there is no purpose or wish on the part of the college to change their seal. The most that can be fairly said is that the college has not hitherto been called upon to discuss the subject. That the restoration of the original seal, in its grand simplicity, would be favorably entertained by a considerable portion of the college we have reason to know."
I have often been struck with the College motto, and Dr. Holmes has so nobly expressed my views on the subject, that I venture to call attention to his sonnets and the comments thereon, which, probably, many persons have not seen.