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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
If policemen, politicians and College biddies are all that undergraduates can think of when they hear a reference to Ireland, they have some excuse for their ignorance. For it is a sad fact that Harvard offers no broad, general course dealing directly with either the history or letters of Erin.
The cause of this silence on Ireland seems to be carelessness, rather than any premeditated desire to suppress the facts. Indeed, President Eliot, started quite a renaissance in Irish culture, and brought to Harvard a number of prominent students, among them Professor Fred N. Robinson 91, whose tireless research in old Celtic was awarded last year with a degree from the University of Dublin. This work has been steadily carried on, although in comparative secrecy. The archeological expedition that has been at work in Ireland for the last four years under the direction of Hugh Hencken '31, of the Peabody Muscum, is just one of the things that make Ireland friendly to Harvard.
When the University crred was in not making the fruits of this study directly available to the student. Lacking the foresight of Eliot, department heads have not seen that in order to live in modern America a background of Irish culture or some index to Irish psychology is necessary. As a result, men leave Harvard unprepared for their daily contacts with the men of Erin.
In the field of literature, there is no course given which uses translations of the old Celtic texts. Students must master the language or go without the riches offered by other American colleges. To study Irish works written in English, they must take a wide range of courses in English literature, on the bare chance of catching a reference to Burke or Moore or Bernard Shaw.
If the student is very patient, this hazardous method may suffice for the study of literature, but it is utterly useless for history. Here there is the greatest need for some course to show that Ireland has a culture and tradition of its own, that there is some unity to its long and turbulent history. There are men on the Faculty able and willing to teach these facts, and the University would be wise to make use of them.
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