This week at Trinity, 100 years ago….

   Posted by: rring   in Uncategorized

November 9, 1910


Yale has for the first time been forced to write “no award” after the Greek entrance prize, basing this action on the general inferior quality of the papers presented.  The New York Times, which is authority for this statement, adds that since Greek was made an optional subject for entrance two years ago, the quality of entrance papers in the subject has steadily declined.

It will not be surprising if the publication of this statement shall revive the perennial discussion as to the place of the classics in our educational system.  We shall have grey-headed and high-browed culturalists, unwashed and ungroomed, with frayed cuffs; and we shall hear from the advocates of the “bright, energetic young man” who knows all about carburetors and how to sell insurance, but can’t spell, never heard of the Pantheon, and is altogether as hard as nails.

Now it may be that the dust from the books of the sages is bad for ball bearings; and it is very certain that the fumes and noises of the laboratory and the workshop would be obnoxious in the library.  But the man isn’t chained to the motor, nor need the brain be entirely walled up in books.  Suppose we could realize and engineer quoting Horace, or a poet criticizing highway construction!  Don’t laugh.  I can imagine wilder things than that.  (It is unscientific and illogical to laugh anyway, and some day I’ll prove it to you).

The solution of this whole classical question is never going to be reached by present methods of attacking it, which for the most part consist in expressing one’s own opinions and prejudices and letting it go at that.  It is as if two chemists were to mix the unknown contents of several phials, place the mixture in a safe, and then argue over what the result ought to be.  What we need to do first, is find out what is causing this anti-classical trend, and its probable future tendency; second, what the end must be if the process goes on unchecked; third, if this end is desirable, and if not, how it can be dodged.

The Tripod is glad to offer a valuable prize for the best answer.  Solutions limited to 50,000 words.  Write on both sides of the paper.  After revising your manuscript, put it in the nearest waste-basket.

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