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IS IT POSSIBLE--OR ARE IT?

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

Browning once wrote a poem concerning "a grammarian's funeral; a Browning is needed on the Burlington. An erudite Vice President inscribed a circular containing the words, " . . . a tremendous area in which "IS" produced two thirds of the oats and corn . . . ", and a meticulous traffic, manager neatly omitted the "IS" and inserted "ARE". The disputants consulted the University of Chicago, then Northwestern, then Harvard, Princeton and Yale. After the weighty decisions were received and considered, the matter was settled by the toss of a coin and IS was the result. Not even five great institutions of learning can convince a Vice President, much less a traffic manager.

It is said that higher education has little benefit for the practical business man. Yet here is a railroad coming to not one but several universities with the object of clearing up a little matter of grammar: the fact that the universities furnished no satisfaction has nothing to do with the case--the mountain did come to Mohamet. Time was when the complete equipment for a railroad magnate's desk consisted of an atlas, a silver spike, and a box of coronas; now one must have at least Roget's Thesaurus and the Encyclopedia Brittanica. The influence of the cloisters is unmistakable. Time-tables may prove unsolvable enigmas, freight rates may offer material for a mathematical genius, but syntax will never suffer as long as the Burlington runs.

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