BELOW will be found the letter sent by Mr. Roberts to the President of the Oxford Boat Club, and Mr. Grenfell's reply.
BOSTON, November 16, 1878.MY DEAR SIR, - Looking to you as best representing the boating interests of your University, I take the liberty of a letter asking your attention and answer as early as you will allow. You will recollect that the coming season brings the tenth anniversary of Oxford's victory over Harvard in a race from Putney to Mortlake. To-day at Cambridge there is a strong desire that a race may be rowed the next summer to again try the good rowing of the two universities. In '69 the trial was hardly a satisfactory one, being out of course in that but four-oared boats represented the two clubs. The wish now is to enter an eight-oar with coxswain against your full University boat. Since there is no possible arrangement by which a crew from Harvard can be in England before the latter part of July, it is clear that in the event of any challenge, Oxford in using her right to name time and place must appoint no date earlier than the 1st of August. It is a thorough appreciation of all the discomforts and annoyances so late a time will of necessity bring to your crew, which influences rather this private letter to you than the customary direct challenge to your club. Harvard feels a claim on your attention, and should a challenge be sent, would expect its acceptance. Still it has seemed more in the spirit of its pleasant relations begun ten years ago to find out your wishes and probable action by letter than by any positive test. It is our hope, in case the race can be brought about, to send to you not only a crew which shall represent Harvard alone, but be, too, the champion of our American colleges. Trusting that you will give this note your quick attention, and that we may have such answer as will authorize the sending of a challenge in due form, I remain,
Very truly yours,
GEO. F. ROBERTS.H. W. GRENFELL, ESQ.,Presd. Oxford U. B. C., Baliol, Oxford.VINCENT'S CLUB, OXFORD, December 11, 1878.
MY DEAR SIR, - I trust that you will forgive my not having returned an immediate answer to your kind letter of November 16, but I felt it was a matter which could not be settled off-hand. Although I am sure that I can assert, on behalf of the University, that they are most ready to acknowledge the spirit of Harvard in wishing to come over to England to row a match, and feel most flattered by it, yet at the same time the difficulties of getting together anything like a representative eight to row in August are very great, as I am sure you would feel if you were in my position. The Oxford summer term ends early in June, and the men by that time, having perhaps rowed in College Eights up here in the May Races, and again perhaps at Henley, also in College Boats, and not together for the University, are generally very stale, and would require much persuasion to begin again and row for another two months, being an exact repetition of what they had done before while preparing for the Inter-'Varsity Race in February and March, and besides many would be utterly prevented from rowing, so the crew would be in reality a different and not a representative one. Again, supposing Oxford were beaten by Cambridge in the spring, it would be very unsatisfactory for Harvard to have a match fixed with the losers; and in any case we shall not have as good a crew as last year, as six of the last year's crew have left the University. Taking these points and others into consideration, I fear I cannot hold out much hope of our being able to row an eight-oared race in August, but shall be most happy to hear from you again if you have any further proposals to make.
Yours most faithfully,
W. H. GRENFELL.