The great heart of Harvard University pulsating with its life of noblest activity, has been stirred to its very core within the last few days, by the appearance in the North American Review of an article professing to give an honest description of the habits of a certain class of men dwelling within the precincts of the University. Following as it does a series of attacks upon the good name of the University published in a number of daily papers, the article has aggravated the feeling among the students that Harvard is most unjustly dealt with by those who have the power to inflict injury if they so desire. The writer of the article in question has adopted the usual method of a coward at heart. Running throughout his pages there is a half-concealed malignity towards our beloved institution that must be apparent not only to every Harvard student who is acquainted with the true state of things existing here, but also to reader who is ignorant of Harvard's methods and customs. In his concluding sentence, the writer meets the cry of misrepresentation that he knows is sure to rise against him by asserting that it is not his business to write of a nobler Harvard, but merely of the baser tendencies of the Unversity. He fancies he has cleared himself by this lightly written phrase. In truth he has played the part of a mole. Without a glance at the fair structure which Harvard men have built in their prosperity, he has dug his way into a heap of the veriest rubbish and then blinded by the dust in his eyes, he has yielded to his distorted imagination and has called his work an accurate description of what he has found. Were every statement he has seen fit to make a complete truth-we deny this with all the energy we can sum-mon-nevertheless, the disquisition would still be one of the gravest of falsehoods: it would be a falsehood because it is meant to convey the impression abroad that the whole system of Harvard is wrong, that from its very position the University must have a fatal effect upon the characters of large numbers of men within its walls, that the attitude of the faculty is one of connivance rather than of active warfare against vice. So far, however, from accepting what this person says of Harvard, detecting immediately the animus of the article, we find so much of exaggeration that the writer's statements become absurd. The writer speaks first of one man in twenty as belonging to the "set" he is describing. Placing the total number of undergrates at 1200, an over-estimate, the size of the set according to the writer's calculation would be 60 men; but a few pages later, this number grows to 100. Not satisfied with this, writer adds element after element until he builds up a result that might well cause the reader to cry out in astonishment. He generalizes unfairly from the actions of a very few men. He speaks of the general extravagance of the social clubs of the college; he charges college men with ungentlemanly conduct in the cars and on the streets. We appeal to all who have had experience in the management of college societies, or who have had the opportunity to observe the habits of students generally to support us in our denials of the right of this writer to make such assertions.
Who the author of this article is, we cannot tell. If he is a Harvard man, we cry shame upon him for his libelous attack upon the institution whose name should be dear to him; if he is a member of some other college, we cry shame upon him for bringing into question the good name of a sister college; if he is not bound to any college by ties of allegiance, we cry shame upon him for the dastardly blow he has attempted to strike at the cause of higher learning. We include in our condemnation the editors of the North American Review because they have opened their columns to an article such as this. The magazine has been brought from its high place to the level of the most notorious metropolitan sporting papers. we include in our condemnation city papers like the Boston Evening Record, which devote their columns to the uses of sensationalism in the hope that a few more pennies may be drawn into their coffers.
The question rises, What attitude shall Harvard present to its critics under these trying circumstances? Shall we have an indignation meeting or shall we allow this latest libel to take its place with many others in the forgotten past? We believe that the best interests of our college can be served by assuming towards such attacks the utmost indifference. As an honest man can live through the worst of slanders, so the honest purposes of the University can survive the utterances of a few jealous individuals. The past history of Harvard is filled with successes. Something more than insults is needed to convince us that the tide has turned and that our hope for the future is baseless. In the consciousness of noble aims and ambitions Harvard University may well thrust aside with little attention, the petty revilers of its good name.