A meeting in commemoration of Francis Parkman was held in Sanders Theatre last evening. President Eliot occupied the chair and made the first address.
President Eliot spoke first of the appropriateness of honoring the name of Francis Parkman in a place so closely connected with his memory as Cambridge. It was in the wild country on the north side of the city that there was born within him that strong love for nature that characterizes all his writings. Prevented by ill health from concentrating his energies entirely upon his vocation, he took up horticulture as an avocation and was eminently successful, especially in the cultivation of lilies and roses. Francis Parkman was the first professor of horticulture in Harvard University. He was also for some time a Fellow of the University and as such won the highest respect of all his associates. It was he that first advocated having the course in oral discussion which is now English VI. In all his connection with the University Mr. Parkman's manly ideals and exemplary character exerted a strong influence.
Justin Winsor then read a brief address. He dwelt chiefly on the relation of Francis Parkman to the old and new schools of historical study. Mr. Parkman began his life work when Sparks, Prescott and Bancroft were still on the field. The characteristic of the old school, of which these historians were the most prominent exponents, was the sacrifice of strict historical accuracy in every detail to an elaborate literary finish. Francis Parkman was the forerunner of a school by which historical integrity is regarded as absolutely necessary. He showed that it is possible to combine honesty of citation with good literary style, and his narratives so impressed their own force that they never, like the older histories, needed platitudes and generalizations to point the moral. They are picturesque while they are invariably faithful to fact.
John Fiske began his remarks by speaking of the revelation which Francis Parkman's works bring to one who has been accustomed to giving American history little importance compared with ancient and mediaval history. America has its classic events and classic places which need but a magician's touch to give them the fascination of romance. Parkman's style was distinctively picturesque as well as true to life. This latter quality was gained by a most painstaking study of all places and people of whom he wrote. Of the Indian character he gained an intelligent idea by long contact with the Indians themselves. In this he has performed invaluable service to the world, as he preserved in his records, at a period when it was fast passing away, a stage of civilization which in a few years would have been lost to the memory of men.
The Glee Club sang Domine Salvam Fac, Gaudeamus Igitur, and Fair Harvard.