Frustrated by their inability for the first time in seven years to sneer at Harvard's inferior football teams, Dartmouth College has, unbelievably enough, deserted the physical field and turned to the intellectual type of criticism for the relief of its inferiority complex. A certain Hanoverian professor named Burns enlivened our day yesterday with his claims that Harvard is provincial; that Harvard's history staff is composed of a tight little Cambridge-Cape Cod set of Anglophiles; and that their influence is responsible for the woeful lack of knowledge of the American people at large about Mexico, Canada, and Russia.
Professor Brinton and his department should feel flattered that the critic from the wilderness should have such a glorified impression of the importance of the History Department. Forty or fifty years ago history professors all over the country were Harvard trained, it is true, and any Harvard Ph.D. could take his pick of college teaching jobs. Today the universities of the South and the West turn out their own professors, and Harvard's influence is small.
The validity of Professor Burns' factual details concerning his Cambridge rivals is open to more than a small bit of doubt. The History Department, singly and collectively, denies any connection with Cape Cod and an unofficial poll reveals a Squam Lake-ish tendency rather than a Barnstable County one.
However, even the anglophilism is open to doubt. For instance, only six of the 94 courses or half-courses offered by the History Department deal directly with England. Of the teachers of these courses one, Professor Merriman, has written a widely known historical work, but it is on Spain, not England. The most distinguished books by Harvard historians of the last decade have been on such subjects as Greece, Bismarck, World War causes, imperialism, revolutions, maritime history of New England, and the Reconstruction in the South. These books have about as much anglophile tinge as Senator Wheeler.
It is regrettably true that the country is almost devoid of knowledge of our two neighbors and of Russia. But Professor Burns must have forgotten that the classic histories of colonial Canada and of the conquest of Mexico were written by a Harvard professor, Francis Parkman, and a Harvard graduate, William Prescott. As for Russia, at the present time, one of the few distinguished professors of Russian history in the country, Professor Karpovich, is on the Harvard staff.
Most ironical of all is a Dartmouth representative's attempt to brand Harvard as provincial. Provincial in our own indifferent way we may be, but for Dartmouth to cast the term in our faces is a case of the pot's calling the virgin snow black.