Four living men of Harvard, all greats in their own field, have retired too soon for the Class of '42 to meet and know. Their heritage to Harvard is cherished, and through the whispering of tradition and the channel of knowledge they still influence new Harvard classes.
They are Abbott Lawrence Lowell '77, President of the University from 1910 to 1933; George Lyman Kittredge '82, indisputably the world's authority on Shakspere, Chaucer, and much else of English literature; Charles Townsond Copeland '82, Boylston Professor of Rhetorie and Oratory, emeritus, the "Copey" who has been literary father of many American writers; and Alfred North Whitehead, the brilliant mathematician and philosopher.
Turning over the presidency of Harvard five years ago to James B. Conant '12 after beginning the House Plan and Tutorial System, Lowell is now rarely soon by undergraduates. He usually makes an annual visit to Lowell House on his birthday, where a dinner is given in his honor. The trouble be encountered in driving his automobile and renewing his license threw him into local headlines recently.
Gurney Professor of English Literature, emeritus, with a heard as "pure as driven snow," Kitty retired in 1935. His "English 2: Six Plays" was one of the most famous courses in the country, and the mid-year and final exams with their long memory question and 60 to 70 "spot" passages were the terror of generations. During his reign he insisted on "Shakspere" as the correct spelling. His students will never forget the pearl gray fiannel suit he invariably wore, the glasses that flew up his lapel to their hanger with never a hitch, and his pungent injunctions against coughing.
The year before last he devoted to the production of a work containing the best known text of all Shakespeare's plays. In recent months he has travelled about the country, speaking in several colleges. Frequently he may be glimpsed striding across the Yard, straight and immaculate, heading toward the steps of Widener.
Here since 1892 and active until 1928, "Copey" is perhaps the best known of these Harvard greats. The "cult of Copey" gained renown early. His method of teaching English composition, for the most part carried on in Hollis 15, once occupied by Emerson and Eliot, was described by Walter Lippmann '10 as a "catch-as-catch can wrestling match."
Lippmann, writing in the special CRIMSON issue published on the occasion of Copeland's 75th birthday, said of him: "Copey was not a professor teaching a crowd in a class room. He was a very distinct person in a unique relationship with each individual who interested him." Two of his works, the "Copeland Translations" and the "Copeland Reader," were described by Robert Hillyer '17, present holder of Copey's famous chair, an "a Harvard contribution to American letters of which we may justly be proud."
Once or twice a year Copey gives a reading to the Freshman Class in the Union. His Christmas reading is a highlight in Yardling life. From time to times he sees a few members of each new class, selected by their English teachers, in his Concord St. apartment.
One of Three Geniuses
Professor of Philosophy here since 1924, Whitehead retired in 1937 at the age of 75. His retirement brought praise for the man from the ends of the earth and deep regret at his leaving. Before his Harvard appointment he taught at Cambridge University and the University of London. With Albert Einstein he did considerable work in the mathematical field, and he is the author of "Principal Mathematica" and "The Principle of Relativity."
Not long ago he was called one of "the three real persons of genius in the world today" by Radcliffe's unusual product, Gertrude Stein. The other two were Picasso and Gertrude Stein.