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The following is an editorial from The Boston Globe of Thursday, July 24. The CRIMSON feels that it is that best of the many newspapers commenis which appeared after Professor Kittredge's death.
Full of years and honors, rich in curious lore and master if lethal epigram, an archetype of the New England schoolmaster has crossed over to where the Shakespearean-Baconian controversy has long since been settled. No that it ever troubled George Lyman Kittredge, Gurney professor of English at Harvard University ("I will admit that Bacon wrote them if you will tell me who wrote Bacon"), for he had better use for his time. Jack Macy used to do an impersonation of Kittredge (in "Kitty's" presence), excoriating every known editor of Shakespeare. I have been too busy for the pawst few years." Yet he got round to it and a good one it is.
The Yankee pedagogue is a tribe always lamented to be perishing out of the land and just as perennially renewing itself. Not for nothing did Kittredge begin teaching at Exeter, and Latin at that. A teacher be remained to the end, in his classes you might be called on at any moment to "recipe," and woe betide if you flunked, even though called upon only once a year; for some of the traditional schoolmasterly truculence always stuck to his tongue, and yes, some of the pedantry also.
His personality was dual. With undergraduates, who had grown to expect temperamental eccentricities, the irascible pedagogue he could be, but with advanced students in his graduate courses he was the urbane scholar, no pains too great to take, and ah, to the suppliant he could be sweet as Summer.
An attempt to appraise his erudition would be presumptuous. As he himself said, "Who could- examine me?" or, when asked if he was a Ph.D., "No," says he imperially, "I make them." Here was one of those happy mortals who would rather do what they are doing than anything else on earth, the catch being as Ibsen in "Rosmersholm" makes Ulric Brendl say of Peter Mortensgard, "He can do anything he will, for he will never will more than he can do."
"Grant, I have mustered learning's erabbed text,
Still, there's the comment
All? Well, nearly all.
"Let me know all."
"He said, 'What's time? Leave Now to dogs and apes.
"Man has Forever.'
"Back to his books then; deeper dropped his head."
Rather a noble head, white hair and beard, eyes frosty blue, voice alternately brusque or urbane, and he walked always in a silvery gray suit the hue of his cigar ashes. Best seen, he was in the orderly disorder of his speckless, spotless study of a Winter's morning, back to a crackling blaze in the white marble fireplace, drinking strong coffee, smoking a long black cigar and laying down the philological law. "Then," said a devotee, "the old man was sublime."
He was also human. And some there are who say that Chaucer and Shakespeare, the poets, perished on his philological dissecting table. Still, this pedagogue knew his business and could teach. He could teach mere boys to understand their Mother Tongue in its greatest period, the late 16th and early 17th centuries, until they were so saturated with it that they could write and even speak Elizabethan English. And in a time when intellectual standards have been slackened, when every arrant sentimentalist can spring a new educational theory and the wine of learning is watered, the austerity of a Kittredge, his snorting contempt for low standards, has been a bracing sea-wind in a hot-house.
His floruit was in one of the great age of Harvard. The names of his colleagues were trumpet blats calling to the banquet of literature and philosophy: James, Royce, and Palmer, Santayana, Baker, Briggs, Perry. Copeland, like Santayana, happily is still with us, as friends remember with effectionate esteem. But such galaxies of eminence are not to be picked up in a forenoon's shopping tour of the academic counters, and neither are they fostered by professional purges.
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