Harvard, of course, must always be attacked, just as one feels free to criticise the Constitution or the White Mountains. It is the price always paid for strength and excellence, above all for the steady resistance to dogma, religious, political and economic; it is the sharp wind that blows the harder, the swifter and the better the ship. Harvard as a spiritual entity whose function is to teach and haply to educate the youth, asks nothing better than to be counted a worker in our American Commonwealth, but as such entity cannot and must not have its facts manufactured for it, its thoughts directed or controlled. For these reasons, it is not seldom criticised by some who at the cost of a little reflection would much soften their wrath.
As an example, at the All Presbyterian Conference of New England held in this city, the moderator of the general assembly declared that "today neither Harvard nor any other great Protestant college gives the first consideration to the peace and prosperity of the Christian Church." Doubtless the speaker was impelled by the best motives in making this sweeping and very vague statement, and therefore we are sure that lie will not object if we take him seriously, for Harvard, though nowadays surrounded by institutions whose competitions it welcomes, is an outstanding factor in the national life. Were this not done, Harvard might be left in a very parlous condition; wept over as unregenerate by Cardinal O'Connell a short time ago, it now receives lusty buffets at the hands of one whom we take to be not in entire agreement on other matters with his eminence. Here is a dilemma, but escape from it is found in some words of the moderator's when he asks, "But what are all the arts and sciences, save as they serve mankind?" They are nothing and Harvard has always known that and acted on the knowledge as its guide.
Harvard, with other institutions, has the imperfection of not being perfect, it makes mistakes, it often leaves undone what it ought to have done, as witness the wholesome and vivifying border warfare carried on by its graduates with their alma matters. But first, last and always, Harvard teaches its men their right to examine for themselves asserted facts, and thereby teaches them the dignity of the individual. It warns against the tyranny of dogma with its attendant loss of liberty. If any doubt the fruits of this, let them regard the records of Harvard men in all departments of our national life, public and private. This has resulted in a certain maturity of outlook, a certain aversion to collective thinking, an aversion that infuriates those trained in a different school. But the glory of Harvard is not the point, but on the centrary that here in this great republican democracy teeming with population yet to be formed and tormented by the problem of a material prosperity well high unmanageable, there exists a school where certainly many young men are taught for good and all that they must do their own thinking. That they carry this lesson with them when they emerge on broader fields is a national political asset of the United States. Boston Transcript