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Robinson Writes Personal Memories of Teacher's Life

By Fred NORRIS Robinson

The Editor of the CRIMSON has asked me to set down at this time-some personal memories of Professor Kittredge, rather than to write of his career as a scholar, teacher, or author. In my case these memories are long-standing, for they go back to the year 1888, when Mr. Kittredge corrected my sophomore themes. They continue through more than 50 years of close association, first as a student and then as a younger colleague. For it has been my privilege to count him as one of my best friends throughout my life.

Students who saw Mr. Kittredge only in the lecture room, and especially in large courses, has a very imperfect knowledge of the nature of the man. His Olympian front and magisterial manner positively terrified some of his hearers. He was not a man, it seemed to take liberties with, and he had, in fact, a sense of personal dignity which was perhaps commoner in an earlier generation.

But if his students had seen him exchanging banter with his friends, or mingling on familiar terms with country people, fishermen and farmers, they would have thought him less formidable. And what they took for irascibility was often only a pedagogical technique. He was impatient with laziness, carelessness, or discourtesy, and rebuked them unsparingly when occasion demanded. He was strict also with innocent minor disturbances like coughing or late arrival at class. But far from losing his temper over these things, he had himself very well in hand.

He could, to be sure, be dramatic, as on the occasion when a window blind was slamming at Radcliffe. He marched across the room, raised the window, and threw the blind to the ground a story below, remarking "There's more than one way to stop a blind when it slams." But he was not so full of pent-up fury as the quivering young women supposed!

I remember only one occasion when his awe-inspiring dignity was a little impaired,--another dramatic performance of his, which ended this time in something bordering on comedy. The Division of Modern Languages was holding a doctoral examination in the open-air loggia behind Warren House, and some little street boys amused themselves by throwing stones into the learned assembly. Mr. Kittredge, who was presiding, asked me to take the chair, picked up a hat from the next seat, and chased the boys to Harvard Square. In a few minutes he returned, leading by each hand a cowering little gamin, whom he brought in to apologize to the Division! Unfortunately when he rushed out he had picked up a hat several sizes too small for him, and as he stood there with his prisoners it was perched very jauntily on his imposing head. The members of the Division enjoyed the comedy, but the boys were not just then looking for fun.

Mr. Kittredge had not lost his temper with the boys; he was merely yielding to the irrepressible impulse to teach,--this time to teach manners and morals. That was also the case when with his walking-stick he poked off the hat of a man who had not uncovered his head on entering Widener. The offender turned out to be, not a student, but a younger colleague who did not particularly relish the lesson. But everything was settled peaceably, and the men were the best of friends.

Mr. Kittredge always insisted that the entrance to the Library, where no only the Widener inscription but also in list of the Harvard men who had died in the World War was then kept, should be treated as a memorial hall.

The Library, of which Mr. Kittredge was a member of he Council, was always one of his chief interests. I remember that when the Widener building was about to the opened somebody in the Faculty meeting asked the President whether smoking was to be permitted there Mr. Lowell replied, Professor Kittredge says no." An unanswerable

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