The selection of Junior Fellows gives but uncertain indication of the future of the Society. The most important consideration is of course the individual calibre of each appointee, and it is impossible to judge of that, without personal acquaintance, until some time has elapsed. General tendencies can be observed, however, in the list published yesterday by President Lowell, and they give some reason for disappointment.
All five of the new Fellows are Harvard graduates; three from the College, three from the Graduate School; one is at present studying here for his Ph.D. This limitation, seemingly counter to the President's statement that Harvard students would not be favored against those of other universities, may be an attempt to have a special nucleus, to which more various elements can be added later. The fields represented show a preponderance of scientific over humanistic activity, only one, American history, belonging in the latter category. Most cause for skepticism, perhaps, is to be found in the general type of record, exhibited by the appointees. Here there is no sign that the old type of scholarship will be kept out of the Society, that a sort of Higher Learning will evolve from it, as had been promised and expected. The promise of the first five Junior Fellows is certainly most brilliant, but it is not of a different sort from that which commands attention and respect at present in graduate schools.
It is to be hoped that the range of choice will not continue to be limited in these ways, else the gap between the ideal propounded a few months ago, and the reality now emerging, will become more and more painful. Criticism can not be very severe against the present choices in themselves, but it has every right to be, as they measure up to a special expectation. In all but one instance, these men, exceptional as their records are, have been subjected to the older sort of graduate work. Particular conditions of study planned for the Fellows must have a changing influence on their methods of approach, if the Society is to take shape as something more than a glorified Graduate School, with advantages chiefly visceral and social.