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In an article contributed to the Monthly for February, 1910, Mr. Robert Herrick spoke of a former ideal of literary art which "withstood various assaults from the practical, who wished the Monthly to 'get more in touch' -- abhorrent phrase -- with this or that,--athletics, the graduates, etc." "The magazine," he continued, "at any rate in my day, preserved a fine uselessness. I hope it does still!" The Monthly is certainly getting very much "in touch." The present number contains one brief essay, three 'stories, and five poems, at least one, "To a School fellow," by C. V. Wright, being of real excellence; but the balance of the number, one-half of its contents, is devoted to "The Case against the CRIMSON." Judging from their use of bold type, and the preconcerted and gratuitous nature of the attack, the editors are evidently not unwilling that this "feature" should become the sensation of the hour. A review of the editorial policy of the Monthly for the past two years reveals the steady growth of a spirit of timeliness and journalistic audacity, a spirit communicated perhaps by the Monthly's youngest contemporary, The Illustrated. That this will in the end prove to be a whole-some tendency is altogether probable. There is no necessary contradiction between usefulness and fine writing. Within the limits of digestion it is better to cut the teeth on food than on an ivory ring. In short, even for those who aspire to write it is a useful exercise to be useful. At the same time it is to be hoped that the Monthly, having stimulated journalism in others, will continue to pursue and occasionally to overtake, literature.
Now as to the merits of "The Case against the CRIMSON." The Monthly's attack cannot be said to express any settled or widespread grievance on the part of the community. The reader's first emotion is one of surprise. He wonders why, if things be as bad as all that, he has not heard of it before. That the CRIMSON fulfils its traditional functions effectively, and to the general satisfaction of the University, cannot seriously be disputed. But it is quite possible that the University might reasonably demand more. And this is the real point of the Monthly's attack. As a call to higher service, it is not without reason. Mr. Parker and Mr. Macgowan appear to have proved that the CRIMSON could afford to give its readers less of advertisements and leaded space, and more of reading matter. Mr. Hagedorn forcibly intimates that the CRIMSON would do well to rely less on the "average intelligence" of its reporters, and call into play more of that "exceptional literary ability," which they at present held to be superfluous, -- and which the Monthly can doubtless instruct them how to procure. Of Mr. Westcott's charge of illiberal dealing with correspondents it is impossible to judge without further information.
But from the general verdict, to the effect that the CRIMSON has not realized all of its opportunities, that paper would naturally be the last to dissent. There is room for greater promptness and better form in the reporting of regular news. There are neglected fields for legitimate and useful journalistic enterprise. And above all there is room for a more vigorous editorial policy, in short for more of initiative and leadership.
The magnanimity of the CRIMSON is proved by the presence of this article in its columns. Indeed there is an air of playful fisticuffs about the Monthly's assault that is not likely to arouse resentment. So that the CRIMSON can at least adopt a flattering metaphor, and admit the resemblance of its critics "to certain animals called asses, who, by gnawing vines, originally taught the great advantage of pruning them.
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