Dear Sir: --
I have the honor to inform you that at the meeting of the University faculty, held December 2, 1903, you were appointed by the President Head of the Department of Classics.
I enclose a copy of the paper in which the President defines the duties of the Head of a Department.
It is only candid to say that [the University’s] position is, in many respects, critical…. There was a time when Harvard, Yale and Princeton was the list in everyone’s mouth when the leading colleges of the country were spoken of; but since the greater colleges were transformed into universities Princeton has fallen out of the list. At least when academic men speak, and they must be the ultimate judge.… Princeton has not kept pace with the others in university development, and that while she has lingered, other, newer, institutions, like Columbia, the Johns Hopkins, and the University of Chicago have pressed in ahead of her. (Link p. 157)
My dear West: --
Will you not be kind enough to call a meeting of your department at as early a date as possible to consider and prepare a scheme of courses conformable to the new plan of study just adopted by the University Faculty? When the department has completed its scheme I should like the privilege of a conference with it to have the several elements of the scheme explained to me and to discuss with the members of the department the relationship of the different courses to each other. Of course the main feature of such a scheme, if it is to conform to the principles and plan of the new course of study, should be sequence and system: a natural development from course to course and as complete an inclusion of the field represented by the department as circumstances will permit.
With much regard,
The curriculum of Freshman and Sophomore years … was deliberately chosen to smother any love of learning or any enthusiasm for the classics …. The method of instruction in Greek and Latin was ... “Drill, tarriers, drill”; six days a week in Latin, six days in Greek. We were all convinced that the Greeks and Romans were the most tiresome people in all human history, and we longed to break the bonds of languages so thoroughly dead as they were then taught.
Against Andrew West I had a very strong prejudice. ... [My father] would tell me of West’s rapacity in sitting at the death beds of millionaires, in order to get bequests for his projects for Princeton. And this prejudice was increased by my contacts with him. He was one of those tiresome snob humanists who put on airs about Greek and Latin and always are ramming them down people’s throats. It was a feature of the Horace and Catullus course, compulsory ion sophomore year, that West should appear about once a month and take all the sections together in one of the big lecture rooms. He would have himself hauled down from the Graduate School in a kind of open hack, in which one would see his great round paunch protruding above his long thin legs, as if it were a watermelon resting on his lap. He would then address the class in an arrogantly patronizing tone. He would pick out some name at random and make the student stand up and attempt to translate an ode. When he had made a fool of this student by interrupting him and holding up to ridicule the ineptitudes of his rendering, he would announce, “Now I’ll give you an example of one of the art of translation.” What followed would be something almost equally awkward. He would stumble, try word after word and never arrive at any very great felicity. We would all be extremely glad when he got back in his hack and departed.
New, younger faculty filled with enthusiasm, who were seeing the need, nay, the imperative, of opening the literature, history and values of Classical civilization to a larger audience. …Mike [Oates] taught a course in Roman satire which was based in Horace and Juvenal but which was much wider in its reach about the nature of satire in Roman and later times; Francis [Godolphin] taught a marvelous course in Aristophanes which enlarged our view of Athenian society and the nature of dramatic comedy then and subsequently.