The following article is an abstract of a speech given by Professor Henri Hauser, Exchange Professor from the University of Paris, at the Union dinner on May 21. The Crimson reprints it in its present form because of its interest to the University as a whole.
It seems to me that it might be of some interest to you if, in a few words, I tried to sum up, after four months, some of my experiences at Harvard. The French professor--of, as you so kindly say, the French guest--on his arrival here, finds himself in a new world. Instead of the austere stone walls of our old fashioned European universities, he is delighted to find a pleasing campus, where he may enjoy walking, sometimes through the deep snow, sometimes among flowers. In that America of yours, which he, from far away, thought of as an artificial and mechanical frame-work, he is delighted to find the simplicity, the freshness of nature, a mixture of nature and science. He realizes the deep significance of that invaluable thing which your former President, who himself gives such an admirable example of that virtue, calls "the Joy in Work."
The Joy in Work! I thought I was just about to share in it, when the officers of the Widener Library gave me talismans more precious to me than those of the Arabian Nights, the key to the stacks, and the key to my study. Alas. May I say that never thoroughly discovered what the undisturbed peace of the scholar in his study meant, and that I was quite unable to explore completely the treasures fled in Widener? I was surrounded by so many friends--old ones, whom I was happy, to meet again, new ones, whom I was happy, to make. You had prepared for your French visitor a social life so delightful, so fascinating, so absorbing, that too short a time was devoted to scientific research, and that many a book has remained on my shelves unopened.
But I have no regrets whatever. I have read books here more interesting than the best books of your splendid library. I have become acquainted with minds more valuable than any printed text. Nothing could be more charming than my daily intercourse, not only with my fellow members of the Faculty, but also with the students. Thanks to the generous idea of the late Professor Schefeld and to the hospitality extended to me by the University, I was in a position to participate in your college life. I have been, for the past four months, one of you. More than ever before I have come to understand the moral and social value of some of your organizations--too scarce in Europe--your clubs, your societies and a Union such as this, in all of these organizations you cultivate that fine flower, "the Joy in Work".
Do you expect me to say that I have nothing but admiration for you? I feel very strongly and I am sure that you agree, that a perpetual laudatory admiration is not a sign of true friendship. I have tried honestly, sincerely and frankly to see and to say what I thought to be excellent and also those points about which I should make reservations. You have seen in my "freedom of speech", therefore, no unkind intentions.
For instance, I must confess that a Frenchman is somewhat disturbed and somewhat at a loss when he reads the catalogue of your courses. The minute--to him too minute--specialization of subjects, of courses, of examinations, the watertight compartments where you have in the sciences as in jail, go against the idea which we have formed of the unity of knowledge. I have never very plainly known, here at Harvard, whether I was an economist gone astray in the historical field, or an historian lost among the economic tribe, being actually a man whose ambition is nothing but to put in their true light the economic features in history.
We have many things to learn from one another. Our students will learn here splendid lessons of energy and efficiency; they will witness, in a young nation, the evolution of a national mind, of a national will, of national traditions. Your students will breathe, in Europe--I dare say especially in France--the perfume of an ancient civilization. That perfume they will find not only in the lecture halls and in the libraries, but also on the streets of our cities, in the churches and castles of our country sides, in the modest homes, in the farms, in the orchards of our peasants.
So the French-American friendship, twice sealed with the blood of our sons, fighting shoulder to shoulder for Right and Democracy, will be completed by an intellectual understanding. And you can be assured that your young men, going to France, will find no more sincere friends than the French professors whose privilege it has been to spend some time in your universities. Let a professor of the old Sorbonne use the words of your own song, and say: "Long life to Fair Harvard"