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To the Editor of the Crimson:
It is a much overrated pleasure to be transported back to the nineteenth century. And it is unfitting, I think, that the Boylston-Wade Contest should be the agent of such a process.
Instead of a fair assessment of comparative merit, there was a crucifixion. Oratory was impaled on sentiment. Impartiality was considered the spawn of Communism.
I do not mean to indicate that the speakers who won the awards were not capable and well trained. Nor do I intimate that the judges were consciously unfair. But when young men grow impassioned about the ideology and the problems of today, conservative scholars from another age should never be recruited for the task of judging. Their ideals must be so jarringly dissimilar that any true impartiality is at least unlikely.
And due to the strange fact that the judges were hearing these speeches for the first time, they must necessarily have listened quite as much to the material as to the actual delivery.
It is interesting to note that the subjects selected by the two winners were resurrected from the era that produced the judges. A fine delivery of the modern verse of T. S. Eliot, and an eloquent presentation of the modern speech of a Southern Senator, went sadly unrewarded.
Although the contest itself is one of our oldest traditions, its administration ought not to be oppressively traditional. Harold L. Colbeth, Jr. ocC.