Of Historical Value
To the Editor of the CRIMSON:
In regard to the question you ask as to the John Sargent's War pictures in the Harvard Library, my recollection is that they are in a style and in a vehicle rather more suited to the magazine cover and to the poster than to a university library. And as to their sentiment,--perhaps they do recall the fierce antagonism of the great war. Nevertheless I do not favor removing them. The habit of pulling down monuments has in it something of the childish. Why not let the decorations stand for what they are worth and for the epoch they record? Such a practice makes history interesting and accords with a reverence for facts.
The French have a passion for pulling things down, but it is not their strong point. I should be glad if the statue King George on the Bowling Green in New York were still standing today--then I should know which George he was. It was destroyed during the Revolution.
Many years ago I was in Volterra,--one of the oldest cities in Italy. By the town gate, which is ornamented by ornaments dating from the time of the Volcians, there stand tablets, one above the other, recording the epochs when the town changed hands. The Italians who took the place in 1848 (or 60?) left standing all the monuments even those which the Austrians had set up. I remember saying to myself when I saw this "Seenow these Italians have a wisdom that is greater than ours, they leave the Past, to speak for itself, that is impressive and respectable".
So, I say, let Sargent and the Warepoch he speaks for be damned or be praised in the future. You won't better matters by expunging records. They may signify something that you haven't thought of. Yours sincerely, John Jay Chapman.