THE subject of scholarships is treated by President Eliot in his late Report in a reasonable and comprehensive spirit, which - as the common phrase goes - leaves little to be desired. That something, nevertheless, remains unsaid, is the opinion of thoughtful persons whose attention has been directed to this subject. For while it is a matter for congratulation that poverty, when it can be confessed and proved, need not bar Harvard to a fairly good scholar, it is still to be regretted that necessitous parties, who are unwilling to proclaim their condition, are tempted to seek the cheaper colleges. And it is not necessarily a false pride which restrains many parents from exposing their financial condition to the authorities of Harvard College, and causes them to object to have the fact of their pecuniary embarrassment solemnly proclaimed in the Catalogue. The competitive conditions of business and professional life make such expositions simply impossible. The clergy, to be sure, form an exception to this rule as to many others. A country minister, who has a thousand dollars a year and six children, will have no hesitation in stating these facts. In his sacred calling poverty is always honorable, and the salary received is a matter of record and general notoriety. A confession of his financial position not only costs a clergyman nothing, but his pride may be honestly gratified in making it. But how stands the case with an embarrassed physician in city practice? Hard times have come, and he finds the dues from half his patients not collectible. His professional position requires him to live in an expensive house upon which he pays taxes, though the mortgage upon it exceeds its value. His health is failing from overwork, and, so far as exemption from financial anxiety goes, he is in a worse position than the clergyman. And yet it will be seen at a glance that he is prevented from making any statement of his affairs. How can he proclaim to his eager competitors that his best patients are leaving him, and that he finds himself on the losing side in the battle of life! He looks over the Catalogue, sees that the noble provision of scholarships cannot reach him, observes that the rent of his old college room has been trebled, and tells his boys that they must go to some cheap college in the country, - if indeed he is able to send them to any. Stronger cases than this might be easily adduced. The merchant who is struggling to avoid bankruptcy, the holder of real estate whose value has sunk below the mortgage, cannot enter the academic confessional and make known their griefs. The adjective poor as applied to those who seek the higher education has only a relative significance, - they are not generally in want of food or shelter. Bearing this in mind, and taking the classes of inherited culture to whom college opportunities especially appeal, it may be questioned whether the poor, who, for good and sufficient reasons, cannot come forward and prove their poverty, do not form the majority.
The above considerations suggest an interesting inquiry: What would be the effect of scholarships open to general competition? Some remarks bearing upon this question may be given on another occasion.