From the Inaugural Address of Charles William Eliot as President of Harvard College, Tuesday, October 19, 1869
Harvard needs poor students: “The poverty of scholars is of inestimable worth in this money-getting nation. It maintains the true standards of virtue and honor…The poor scholars and preachers of duty defend the modern community against its own material prosperity.”
But Harvard also needs rich students: “…this College owes much of its distinctive character to those who bringing hither from refined homes good breeding, gentle tastes, and a manly delicacy, add to them openness and activity of mind, intellectual interests, and a sense of public duty…To lose altogether the presence of those who in early life have enjoyed the domestic and social advantages of wealth would be as great a blow to the College as to lose the sons of the poor. The interests of the College and the country are identical in this regard. The country suffers when the rich are ignorant and unrefined. Inherited wealth is an unmitigated curse when divorced from culture. Harvard College is sometimes reproached for being aristocratic. If by aristocracy be meant a stupid and pretentious caste, founded on wealth, and birth, and an affectation of European manners, no charge could be more preposterous: the College is intensely American in affection, and intensely democratic in temper. But there is an aristocracy to which the sons of Harvard have belonged, and let us hope will ever aspire to belong,–the aristocracy which excels in manly sports, carries off the honors and prizes of the learned professions, and bears itself with distinction in all fields of intellectual labor and combat; the aristocracy which in peace stands firmest for the public honor and renown, and in war rides first into the murderous thickets.”
WHAT SAY YE?