At the dinner of the Harvard Club of Washington last evening the three principal speakers were President Eliot, the President of the United States, and ex-Secretary of State Root. The last two were vied in praise of President Eliot's character and ability, and, though no definite announcement was made relative to his appointment as Ambassador to the Court of St. James, both speakers attributed to him all the qualities necessary to the occupancy of that station.
President Eliot was the first speaker. He said in substance, that he had been greatly impressed during his recent travel in the South by the great gains education is making there, the most significant feature being the rapid growth and development and the improvement in quality of the secondary schools there. Harvard and all the great universities have especial interest in this gain of the schools. The prestige of Harvard must be maintained before the country by the conspicuous success of its graduates. The changes in the methods of education in the last 40 years have emphasized the value of the practical side of modern education. President Eliot pointed out many ways in which the alumni could assist in this work.
He was followed by ex-Secretary Root, who, after narrating a few anecdotes of the personal history of President Taft, paid President Eliot this glowing tribute: "If it should so befall Dr. Eliot to be appointed Ambassador, before whatever monarch he shall stand, there we shall know our great republic, in all its good qualities of truth and sincerity of nature, in all its pious ideals and aspirations, is represented by a man, an American gentleman, a scholar and a sage indeed."
President Taft spoke last. His speech was devoted entirely to a eulogy of President Eliot, the ideals of education and the fostering of the university spirit for which he has stood. He designated him "the head of the educational movement of the last 40 years." He caused an outburst of applause by professing his complete endorsement of ex-Secretary Root's tribute, adding "and especially do I share every word Senator Root has said concerning what may happen to Dr. Eliot in the future." President Taft then commented upon President Eliot's character and ability to administer, and the high standard he has set for university presidents of the future. He concluded: "All Senator Root has said I heartily endorse; it was one of the most discriminating speeches I have ever heard the Senator from New York make, Dr. Eliot is the dean of the teaching profession, and has made that profession, already great and influential, the leading profession in the country. He has brought the university into such relation to public life that we cannot fail to owe him a great debt of gratitude for having elevated public life in the way the university spirit represented by him has elevated it."