Memorial Hall -- 1886

Basil Ransom had heard of the great Memorial Hall, and the ornate, over-topping structure which was the finest piece of architecture he had ever seen, had solicited his enlarged curiosity for the last half-year. He thought there was rather too much brick about it, but it was buttressed, cloistered, turreted, dedicated, superscribed, as he had never seen anything; though it didn't look old, it looked significant; it covered a large area and sprang majestic into the winter air. It was detached from the rest of the collegiate gronup and stood in a grassy triangle of its own.

The Memorial Hall of Harvard consists of three main divisions: one of them a theater, for academic ceremonies; another a refectory, covered with a timbered roof, hung about with portraits and lighted by stained windows, like the halls of the colleges of Oxord; and the third, the most interesting, a chamber high, dim, and severe, consecrated to the sons of the University who fell in the long Civil War. Ransom and his companion wandered from one part of the building to another, and stayed their steps at several impressive points; but they lingered longest in the presence of the white, ranged tablets, each of which, in its proud, sad clearness, is inscribed with the name of a student soldier.

The effect of the place is singularly noble and solemn, and it is impossible to feel it without a lifting of the heart. It stands there for duty and honor, it speaks of sacrfiice and example, seems a kind of temple to youth, manhood, generosity. The simple emotion of the old fighting-time came back to him, and the monument around him seemed an embodiment of that memory; it arched over friends as well as enemies, the victims of defeat as well as the sons of triumph.

"It is very beautiful -- but I think it is very dreadful!" This remark from Verena, called him back to the present. "It's a real sin to put up such a building, just to glorify a lot of bloodshed. If it wasn't so majestic, I would have it pulled down."