Copeland, Kittredge, Lake and now Lowest. They are names that every schoolboy knows, men who were only yesterday seen in the Yard, men with little green bags and little eccentricities of dress and speech, men whom undergraduates knew as men, but to the class that enters in the fall, and for many years to come, they will just be "authorities" with which to pad a bibliography. Their books can be brought in Boston or Bombay; they themselves are no longer the unique offering of Harvard.
Because Harvard is ageless and men are mortal, the problem is an old one, although as Harvard has grown bigger and bigger the problem has steadily lost its frightening aspect. And there is in this thought a causal pattern which is distinctly encouraging.
Sometimes a very little college has a very big professor, and for a moment it flutters in the spotlight as students from far off crowd in to hear this man who for some reason of his own chooses to teach there. Maybe he likes the climate. But finally he retires, and with him the college into the obscurity from which he had brought it.
But this will not happen here. Harvard is not a currently fashionable resort, but a growing community. Its inhabitants are not sightseers; they have come to stay. If the University has difficulty in filling the Francis Lee Higginson chair, it will not be for want of applicants. With his deep, booming voice, his profound erudition and inspired criticism, Professor Lowes has added many citizens to this community.
It is no service to a university for a teacher to make himself irreplacable. And if Professor Lowes has done this, it is only for the moment. In the next ten years the English Department will know a new burst of activity, a new striving for scholarship, a new set of names to become famous. And in this Professor Lowes will see a tangible reward for his labor and the most moving tribute a teacher can receive.