Amid Boston Overdose Crisis, a Pair of Harvard Students Are Bringing Narcan to the Red Line
At First Cambridge City Council Election Forum, Candidates Clash Over Building Emissions
Harvard’s Updated Sustainability Plan Garners Optimistic Responses from Student Climate Activists
‘Sunroof’ Singer Nicky Youre Lights Up Harvard Yard at Crimson Jam
‘The Architect of the Whole Plan’: Harvard Law Graduate Ken Chesebro’s Path to Jan. 6
FEW biographies can achieve, by their literary excellence, the status of masterpieces in the field of belles letters. A larger group, however, can gain lasting interest by a competent and sympathetic appraisal of a great personality. In this class belongs Mrs. Greenough's life of her husband, Chester Noyes Greenough--C.N.G. to the thousands of Harvard men who knew him as teacher, dean, house-master, and scholar-gentleman. So small was C.N.G.'s love of personal fame that, after ten years as dean in the expanding days of the Lowell administration, and five as first master of Dunster House, he could tell a friend that he had been "ten years a policeman and five years a hotel clerk."
Professor Greenough represents all that is best in the New England traditions of sound family and firm living. One reads almost with awe of the grandmother. A minister's wife who kept together her family of husband and eight children on the enormous income of $350 a year, she was yet able to write:" . . . When I am continually exercised with the requisite care of the bodies of my children, and consider that the immortal part is of infinitely more importance. . . O that we could inspire the rising generation around us with a scnse of the importance and worth of time, and the certainty that every action of every day helps to fix a character for eternity." It is this inherited spirit of the noble dignity of man that characterizes the entire life of C.N.G.
Professor Greenough's constant devotion to Harvard and Harvard affairs should be a great source of reassurance to those who cling to the hope that Harvard is something more than an educational factory. He lent a sensitive humanity to his dealings with the University that went far beyond the line of duty. One sees him worrying with the problem of supporting English a for five months on a balance of 82.25; or trying, as dean, to make the Freshman's problem of adjustment a less tortuos one; or, as bouscmaster, asking his assistants to find out which of the men in the house had to spend all their week-ends in Cambridge, so that he and Mrs. Greenough could contrive in some way to make their Sundays less lonely.
One can only regret that Mrs. Greenough did not let herself intrude a little more into her book--that she relied so much on documentation, and not enough on personal observation. This is particularly regret table when one sees with what easy charm she handles the sections on C.N.G. as Uncle Toby, the ideal companion to his adoring step-children.
Also printed as a companion to the biography is a valuable collection of studies published by Professor Greenough at different time during his active life in the field of letters. These are a sure testimony to the real scholarship of the man--a quality one is apt to forget in the overwhelming realization of his essential humanness.
Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.