Prescient men have seen it coming, but they have kept their silence in a spirit of filial devotion. The abolition of Greek and Latin entrance requirements, the establishment of Radcliffe and Social Relations--these were received with stunned but obedient submission. Now the time for silence is past; the time has come to speak out, for Harvard's Ages of Gold and Silver are forever gone, and usurping Brass anticks in its vulgar triumph.
Let there be no confusion on this matter: diplomas in English are not isolated evil, but symptoms of a growing blight, a Dutch Elm disease of the soul which starts by ravaging one noble custom and then infects all, until it has denuded the landscape of that which gave it beauty; a fire, which leaves one great oak a smouldering heap of common ashes and then disappears underground, slowly to burn its hellish fire through a subterranean network of roots until it bursts forth once again as a great blaze, consuming all and leaving nothing.
Graduates of all sorts and undergraduates of the better sort will doubtless spring to the defense of sacred custom. They will fill pages of the Alumni Bulletin with eloquently anguished letters. They will speak from blind, unreasoned prejudice, and it is well that they will do so. A College is not a mere trafficking in books and lectures, a simple commerce in examinations and parchments: it is a way of life, encompassing all we may do.
But this change breaks faith with a fellowship far greater than that of one college. The procession of universities stretches from young Swansea through stripling Yale to aging Harvard and continues back through the centuries to ancient Paris and Bologna. When next our President travels to an academic convocation, he must expect to be derided as the man who changed Alma Mater to Foster Mother.