IN regard to the Freshman Race, the Springfield Republican persists in what we consider the wrong view. As that paper will undoubtedly have a considerable influence upon public opinion in boating matters for the next month, we will state clearly the opinion of Harvard Freshmen; the Springfield newspaper shall not have this excuse, at any rate, for its partisan course, that it was ignorant of the facts.
At Harvard, the University Boat Club and the Freshman Boat Club are distinct organizations; neither has any right of control over the other; at a meeting of neither can business be transacted binding the other; neither is responsible for the debts of the other. It is admitted that the Freshman race will be under the control of the Regatta Committee; it is also true that in general the officers of the U. B. C. often advise the members of the Freshman crew, and make arrangements for their training and races; but these things are done by tacit consent and not by prerogative. The right to refuse to be bound by such arrangements belongs to the Freshmen, and they in the present case (let us for a moment consider the matter from the Republican's stand-point) have exercised this right in declining to row according to the rules of the Rowing Association. In so acting, have they in the slightest gone beyond the bounds of justice? Have they merited to be called " cowards " and " dishonorable " men by the Yale Courant, to have this taunt caught up by the Republican, sealed as true by that paper's reputation for just judgment, and spread throughout the country as an exponent of the character of Harvard Freshmen as true as it is bitter? To this question there can be but one answer when it is remembered that at the Convention in Worcester the -Freshmen Boat Clubs were not represented. These are the facts and the fair inferences from the facts. Does the Re-publican see?
But the case rests on even firmer ground than this. The Convention made no rule in regard to Freshman crews; so, even on the supposition that Freshman Clubs are subject to University Clubs, they would still be free to act just as they themselves saw fit. Does the Republican say that in the rule concerning the composition of " University or representative " crews, the word " representative " is applicable to Freshman crews? Then must it also maintain the absurdity that any " candidate for the degrees A. B., Ph. B., " &c. can row in a Freshman race.
It may be urged that it is in agreement with the present spirit of college boating for Freshman crews to represent all departments of a university; that, therefore, it would be a courteous thing in Harvard and Amherst to waive their strictly legal advantage, and grant, as an equitable claim, what could not be demanded according to the letter of the rules. To this there is a twofold answer. In the first place, inasmuch as Yale's right to pick her crew from the Sheffield School was not perfectly clear, she should have sent, months ago, a notice of her intention to her opponents, with an explanation of her reasons. Had this been done, the reasons would have been considered, and a decision reached in which, the editors of the Magenta hope, the Freshmen would have been influenced solely by what they thought just to all, and not by either a generous but reckless impulse to grant all that a courteous adversary asked for, or any childish dread of being called coward's if they did not do so. What Yale did was quietly to set her men to work, without a word of explanation, and, when a protest was received, to return a defiant reply and to publish insults in her chief paper!
In the second place, as to the merit of such a claim on Yale's part. It must be noticed that, at this point, we leave the province of clear and unanswerable reasoning. On such a question opinions are determined, not so much by the spoken reasons (such as on Harvard's part "unfairness to the smaller colleges," and on Yale's "fitness that the two races should be rowed on one principle") as by feelings, customs, prejudices. Every one will allow that races between University, and between College or department, Freshmen are both very good things. But if only one can be had, it is evidently a nice matter to decide which is the better. It appears as if a college might easily be excused for choosing either; but, having made its choice, can it escape blame if it brutally assails another college which with equally good right has made a different choice? The Harvard opinion is, that a Freshman race ought to be conducted on the same principle as heretofore. As long as this opinion is held by a majority of the colleges who send Freshman crews to the Regatta, or at the very least until this question shall be explicitly decided by the Rowing Association, Harvard thinks that the minority ought to yield, as she herself has done in the case of a University race.
One word before we close in regard to the tone of the Republican's criticism of the Magenta. We pass by as of little consequence the sneers concerning our "fine-sounding but meaningless" phrases; either the Republican would not find a meaning (which conduct was highly immoral in a paper of such pretensions), or it could not; in which case, either it was stupid, or we admit we were to blame. But when this newspaper implies that we are not to be trusted, as being ignorant whereof we speak, we must protest. Was the Republican conscious that its own title to credence could not bear scrutiny? was it therefore the cunning of a thief set to catch a thief which suggested that our statements might not be founded on fact? Did it feel the injustice of charging the Harvard Freshmen with showing the "white feather" merely on the authority of a libel in the Yale Courant, that it must suspect the editors of the Magenta of equal lack of conscience? In order that no one may have a legitimate doubt in regard to this article, we state that before it was sent to the press, it was read to the President of the H. U. B. C. and to the Captain of the Freshman Crew, and approved by them.