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To the Editors of the Crimson:
SIRS:- Will you permit me to say a word of protest against the editorial in the current Monthly which attempts to define the attitude which Harvard undergraduates should maintain in the present state of public affairs?
The writer, intimating that the Harvard undergraduate considers the war with Spain "unnecessary and unjust," and denouncing our law-makers as "unscrupulous," declares that it is yet necessary, under our faulty democratic government, to give the war an "unconditional moral support." How this extraordinary task is to be accomplished he explains with the utmost lucidity. The undergraduates are to contribute to the "austere and thoughtful academic influence" of the University by refusing to enlist until a call shall be received to which they can, without loss of dignity, respond. Meanwhile, the fighting shall be left to fellows whose fathers did not happen to send them to college, and who, if they happen to be shot or to die of yellow fever, will be no great loss to the republic. The Harvard men who have already gone are described as most unworthily "scrambling" to reach Cuba.
That the young gentleman who wrote this editorial should disapprove of the war and of the American government is distressing, but must be borne with patience. That there are good reasons why every young man in the country who has the impulse to enlist should think twice before he follows it we can not doubt; President Eliot has made for us a very clear and noble aualysis of the different motives to enlistment. But two of the ideas presented in the editorial are so novel to a graduate that I can not forbear a comment. The first is the proposition that the patriotism of college men is different from that of Americans who haven't the good fortune to go to college; the other is the notion of a Harvard Freshman or Sophomore as the wielder of an "austere academical influence." There was no course in austere influences in my day; and we were never advised to use any particular brand of patriotism. In fact, we were rather led to believe that those who occupy the choicest places in the Republic should be the quickest to respond to its call for service. Perhaps we were misled by General Charles Lowell's reply to the man who proposed a regiment of gentlemen in the army: "What do you mean by 'gentlemen,' Drivers of gigs?" As to the loss of dignity from eagerness to serve, we had an idea that Colonel Shaw actually "scrambled" up to his place on the Ft. Wagner rampart, where the bullet found him, and where our reverent fancy will keep him forever.
I have been pained to learn, from graduates in different parts of the country, that the men whom the Republic is about to expose to bullets and yellow fever suspect this University community of lukewarm loyalty to the country which it has served so often and so simply. If we can not all of us join these men, let us at least not insult them by saying that their lives are less valuable than ours. If we can not convince them that we are patriotic, let us at least not convince them that we are cads. '91.
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