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THE ENGLISH LAUREL

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

The teaching of English composition in Harvard College is now an invincible fortress. Of the attacks formerly hurled against it, some were foolish and abortive. And those that really told are now met by strong repulsion. In all probability the structure of the department was always firm. But whatever weaknesses there may have been are now stoutly reinforced.

The old plan of attack was that the instructors, distinguished specialists in particular fields, were forced to prostitute their art to the mediocrity of their disciples. It was claimed that the lives of artists were reduced to drudgery because they had to appraise scribblings in lines of writing with which they were unfamiliar. The masters were doomed to drabness, the department to emasculation. But if ever this assault was justified, it is not now. Certain professors, like Mr. Hillyer, are capable judges of all forms of writing. Others who feel their jurisdiction limited, such as Mr. DeVoto, exclude certain forms, as he does poetry. Whether the student be a specialist or a genius budding in all directions, a little foresight is bound to direct him into the right course.

The one spot that was once vulnerable has now undergone reform. A writer who began his career as a Sophomore was once forced to enter his field by the pathway of prose. It he were a poet, he had to climb off Pegasus' back and lead him. But now the elementary course (after prescribed Freshman English) is a twin entry. The prose men plod after Mr. Morrison along the shore. The poets whiz through the clouds in hot pursuit of Mr. G. R. Davis. And these facts should be enough to silence all dissenting tongues.

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