(Ed. Note--The Crimson does not necessarily endorse opinions expressed in printed communications. No attention will be paid to anonymous letters and only under special conditions, at the request of the writer, will names to with-held.)
To the Editors of the Crimson:
May I ask your indulgence for a few comments on your editorial in this morning's issue on the subject of the Harvard Seal and Arms. Your statements show misapprehension both as to the significance of the Seal and the Arms and as to the attitude of the University in its effort to set up a distinction that rests on solid grounds of academic and heraldic usage.
A Harvard man may, as you suggest, be proud of his right to display the emblem of his University, but there is no right to display the corporate Seal of the President and Fellows. The Seal happens to contain the emblem but it is not itself the emblem. The Seal has no meaning whatever except to indicate that the document to which it is attached is an authentic, corporate act.
It is well established in the usage of older universities, probably without exception, that the Arms constitute the emblem available for decorative uses, whereas the Seal is in the exclusive custody of its owner and is used only for purposes of authentication. It may, but often does not, include the Arms. At Oxford and Cambridge one can find on sale stationery bearing the Arms of the different Colleges, but one does not find their Seals thus used. Even on their university publications the Arms are used in an unlimited variety of decorative treatments, but never the Seal. There is no objection to adding to the Arms appropriate legends like Harvard University, Harvard College, Harvard Medical School, or the name of a Harvard club, to indicate such special associations. From the artistic point of view, freedom of decorative treatment in combination with the Arms is very much to be preferred to the rigid limitations of the circular Seal.
In the practice of the University itself, which has been by no means consistent in the past, the Seal will be used hereafter only when affixed to documents for purposes of authentication, except that considerations of economy will permit the using up of stationery, catalogues, pamphlets, etc., which now bear an engraved or printed Seal. The University will eventually use, exclusively, various decorative forms of the Arms on its publications and, when desired, on its stationery. Such forms have already been in use by the Harvard University Press. . . . .
A just estimate of the conclusion reached by the Committee and the Corporation would seem to be not that it has deprived the University or the public of a valuable right, but that it has made a positive contribution to both. The possibility of developing through experiment tasteful adaptations of the Harvard Arms to a variety of uses for which the Seal, even if it were legal, would be inappropriate, is one that may well commend itself to the students and the Alumni of the University. It is to be hoped that with the exhaustion within a year of the stocks of merchandise that do not conform to the new regulations, both the sentimental and the commercial interests involved will welcome the new dispensation. Here is an incentive to artistic invention which may well appeal to available talent. Jerome D. Greene, Secretary to the Corporation.