The recently lamented death of Professor Hurlbut, the resignation of Professor Bliss Perry along with the absence of Professor Lowes at Oxford next year are all unmistakable indications that the English Department is going to find it extremely difficult to cover its field and at the same time maintain the standard of excellence which has been set in the past. At the present time, of the eighty-two courses offered, almost half will be omitted next half year. This means not only that much important material will not be presented, but also that those concentrating in English will be forced to cover a considerable portion of their required work either unassisted, or with their tutors.
With the omission of nearly all of the courses covering the field of English literature from 1700 to the end of the Nineteenth Century, much of the most important writing and thought of the English language will be left in the none too able hands of the individual student. This will be a great hardship especially from the point of view of Divisionals. Moreover, the absence of so many men noted for their ability to stimulate ideas can certainly be deemed an unhealthy feature of this deflation.
Among composition courses, Professor Hurlbut's English 31 has long been unique. Its efficacy has been attested by the large number of writers to whom it furnished the necessary fundamental training. His death leaves a gap in the curriculum which at the present, time threatens to be permanent. Although this particular course is not a preparation for the inevitable examinations it fills a need that is quite as important in that it offers a definite foundation for a career.
The problem of the English Department is to find men of a calibre equal to that of those men who have contributed to its distinction. Excellence in a faculty does not consist in a static retention of first class men, but in the ability to find men who can fill their places when the necessity arrives. The greatness of any department lies above all in the maintenance of an average of undoubted excellence.