Opinion as to the wisdom of the policy of the board of overseers in refusing to confer the customary degree upon Governor Butler is at present much divided. But, as to Butler's conduct since the vote of the board was announced, there can be no difference of opinion. That he should impute the meanest of motives to his opponents, and should indulge in the most scurrilous language in relation to their action, is by no means surprising nor unexpected when we consider the notorious character of the man and the semi-political bearing of the occasion. But that, after the manner of the cheapest politician, the Governor of Massachusetts, in a newspaper interview, should indulge in bombastic threats against Harvard College - this, certainly, is a matter in which no Harvard man can afford to take an indifferent interest.
"I regret very much," Governor Butler is reported as saying, "this political action on the part of the college, because I fear it may tend to impair its usefulness, for it is quite possible that the people of the Commonwealth may hereafter remember it to the disadvantage of the college and come to the conclusion to divorce the college and the State as our fathers divorced the church and State, and may inquire if there is any reason why the property of that institution shall be exempted from taxataxation, which is so burdensome upon us, while they use the alms of the State, so bestowed upon them for educational purposes, in an endeavor to control the politics of the State."
All this accords very well with the man's previous attitude towards Harvard College. Whatever doubts one may hold as to the wisdom of the policy adopted by the overseers in this matter, there can be nothing but a universal feeling of satisfaction and relief that, by this action, the college is relieved from any connection with Benjamin F. Butler. We think it may be assumed that the motives of those members of the board of overseers who voted to refuse the degree were those of men anxious for the welfare of the college, for the triumph of principle, and not a willful determination to sacrifice that welfare to personal and political ends. If Butler's political career is helped by this action it will be a matter for which the university is not responsible and Massachusetts is. If Harvard, by any chance, suffers injury, as a result of the stand taken, it will be a sacrifice to higher principles, which always take precedence of motives of expediency.