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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
On the question of French occupation of the Ruhr the English have become more and more condemnatory of France. Whether a dearth of Ruhr trade and flattened English pocket-books have given rise to this attitude is a nice point for speculative minds. At any rate, that this attitude now exists ins an establish of fact, especially since Lord Curzon's vigorous message on the subject sent to Premier Poincare a few weeks ago. America, though assuming the pose of the onlooker with his feet well out of all dust and dirt, is perhaps inclined to favor the French action. Therefore each side in the debate this evening will voice, to a greater or less degree, the sentiment of its country. Consequently the speeches of each should be fired with a "noble sincerity."
Sincerity is a prime requisite for good debating but it is not everything. A dunce can roar away on the nutritious qualities of mince pie with all the sincerity in the world and yet convince nobody. The good debaters most have also facts in logical order and "address". After the Harvard-Oxford debate last year it was generally thought the Americans had the logic while the English had the address. And over the comparative merits of the two methods and greater debate gave rise to long-continued spluttering of lesser debate.
Although the audience settled the point at the time by a walk-out, public sentiment may have changed ere this or perhaps the method of the debaters themselves may have undergone revision. It is hardly likely that the Englishmen, with a possible political life ahead of them, will have renounced their politic and winning manners; but they may have charged themselves with facts and logic. On the other hand the Harvard debaters may have concluded that charm as well as logic is of aid in moving a human audience.
But speculations are hallow satisfaction compared with examining the methods at first hand. Since the subject of the debate is far from being a dead letter in international affairs and since the method of appeal which the two teams employ will be so interesting to study, a large number of University students, without doubt, will give the lie to their well-known reputation.
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