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Sever 11 was filled last evening by undergraduates, graduates and professors to hear Major Higginson speak about his gift to the college. President Eliot read the following letter, which explains itself:
BOSTON, June 5th, 1890.
TO THE PRESIDENT AND FELLOWS OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY, Cambridge:
The deeds of Miss Willard's estate will be passed to you today, and with them my wish in regard to it.
The estate henceforth belongs to the college, without any condition or restriction whatsoever, and for use in any way which the Corporation may see fit.
My hope is that the ground will be used for the present as a play-ground for the students, and that in case you should need the ground by and by for other purposes, another play-ground will be given to the students.
But the gift is absolutely without condition of any kind.
The only other wish on my part is that the ground shall be called "The Soldiers' Field," and marked with a stone bearing the names of some dear friends, alumni of the University and noble gentlemen, who gave freely and eagerly all that they had or hoped for to their country and to their fellow men in the hour of their greatest need the war of 1861 to 1865-in defence of the Republic.
JAMES SAVAGE, JR.
CHARLES RUSSELL LOWELL.
EDWARD BARRY DALTON.
STEPHEN GEORGE PERKINS.
JAMES JACKSON LOWELL.
ROBERT GOULD SHAW.
This is only a wish and not a condition; and moreover it is a happiness to me to serve the college which has done so much for us all.
I am, with much respect, Very truly yours, (Signed) HENRY L. HIGGINSON.
President Eliot went on to say that Henry L. Higginson '55 entered the army when the war broke out. He was wounded in '63 and had to leave. He became a successful business man, has made the best use of his money, and is now doing what his six friends would have liked to do in helping the development of manly sports.
Major Higginson was received with tremendous applause, and said in brief:
The college playground has been inadequate for a long time. The land now presented is beyond the bridge, to the right, and adjoins the Longfellow bequest. It is pleasant to do a kindness for the dear old college; she needs help and devotion from us all, for she has given us and our land more than any one of us will give back. This is to be more than a play-ground; it is a memorial of friends who gave their lives for their country.
James Lowell was the first scholar in his class, thoughtful, kind, affectionate, full of solicitude about his companions and his duties. He was killed at Glendale.
Robert Gould Shaw was simple, manly, steadfast, affectionate and humane to the last degree; his ambition was to do his plain duty.
Stephen Perkins, a vigorous oarsman, a wit and philosopher of high intellectual tastes, although disabled, left the ambulance, and was killed fighting in a bloody and useless battle.
Charles Lowell, a first scholar, brilliant, strong, full of ideas, was killed fighting desperately in the Shenandoah campaign.
James Savage was an enthusiast, modest, wonderfully attractive and of nobel purity and goodness.
The last of these patriots is Edward Dalton, a physician of intelligence, energy, devotion and sweetness, who worked out his life-blood to save that of others.
In memory of these men it is proposed to call the playground the "Soldiers' Field." Mr. James Russell Lowell proposes the following verse of Emerson's for the stone:
"Though love repine and reason chafe,
There comes a voice without reply:
"Tis man's perdition to be safe
When for the truth he ought to die."
The lives of these men teach us the beauty and loveliness of work, and of utter unselfish devotion to country and fellow men. They remind us of our duties as citizens of the republic. The problems of today are harder than those of slavery and the public debt; we must work side by side with others, learning and teaching. The idle and indifferent are the dangerous ones.
Charles Russell Lowell wrote just before his last battle:
"Don't grow rich; if you once begin you will find it much more difficult to be a useful citizen. The useful citizen is a mighty, unpretending hero."
I ask you to take his words to heart, and be moved and guided by them.
Gentlemen, will you remember that this new playground will only be good if it is used constantly and freely, and that it is a legacy from my friends to the dear old college, and so to you?
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