To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
Dean Hurlbut's tentative settlement of the troubles growing out of the abstraction of the Brooks tablet seemed to me to realize so perfectly all the possibilities for good that the situation contained, that I have noticed with much regret some opposition to the fulfilment of his plan. I see that the Boston Herald, lately chastened by a Harvard graduate for printing malicious lies about his young children, expresses the conviction that the Dean's course compromises the dignity and authority of the University. The Herald praises the good sense of the undergraduates who favor the most drastic treatment of the case. Smarting itself with recent stripes it howls for the punishment of others. It doubts that the terms of the agreement with the Med. Fac. will be lived up to by its members; suggests that the Harvard authorities seem to regard Harvard students as a privileged aristocracy, and artfully bends itself to stir up bad blood inside and outside of the University.
The Herald either cannot or will not understand the case as it is. I don't see that it matters at all whether it does or not. But the opposition to the settlement within the University is another matter. The cry of undergraduates for harsher punishment for an undergraduate; the echo in the Bulletin of "the charge that in Harvard College the rich man is treated better than the poor"; are not a little depressing. "The government of a University," says ex-Dean Briggs, "cannot with safety be entrusted to students; they are harsher than their elders and less just to persons whom they dislike." For my part, I would rather be caught, at twenty, lifting a bronze tablet out of Brooks House, than clamoring in the College papers for harsher punishment for a fellow student. The former offense is evidence of profound indiscretion, but is not inconsistent with honor or the noblest qualities. It shows misapprehension of some things, but not necessarily a corrupted character. Is punishment in itself a thing to be desired? I never heard so.
The suggestion which I see made by "Undergraduate" in the CRIMSON that the Med. Fac. is driving a sharp bargain with the Harvard Faculty, seems to me entirely misleading. The Med. Fac., as has been pointed out elsewhere, has long been out of date, and knows it. Its older ex-members are undoubtedly anxious to close it out. Its venerable traditions serve nowadays no better purpose than to get venturesome youths into tight places, and fathers of sons don't want them to stay in force. I have no doubt at all that the older Med. Fac. men have jumped at this chance to send the ancient society to its long home. But that can only be done by the co-operation of a good many minds, in different stages of development, and that co-operation is much easier secured under pressure of some urgent inducement. There is everything to be gained by the Dean's plan, and nothing to be lost which any generous man would not lose eagerly. The suggestion that the dignity of the College will suffer is nonsense. That the Boston Herald should believe that the Med. Fac. wont keep its word is natural enough; but it will keep its word absolutely and unquestionably, and if there are undergraduates who do not know that it will, that is only because they don't know the Med. Fac.
Build bridges of gold for a flying enemy. Let the old Med. Fac. go in peace: it is by no means going in triumph. We take it too hard any way, pulling such grave faces and arguing so soberly over the demise of an organization purely devoted to folly and the instigation of laughter. Sincerely yours, EDWARD S. MARTIN '77.
Madison, Connecticut, June 3, 1905.