Alston Hurd Chase
Time Remembered

[Part II]

5. Quips, Cranks, and a Few Wanton Wiles

Every schoolmaster accumulates a store of anecdotes which seem, to him at least, amusing. Some people find these stories boring and very un-funny, for which reason I have placed most of mine in this penultimate chapter where they may easily be skipped. They have been set down quite at random as they swam to the surface of my memory.

In one of my early years at Andover I had in my Latin III a very serious lad from the strictest of Quaker backgrounds. One warm afternoon the class was droning through Cicero's First Catilinarian. Suddenly the word harlot occurred. The Quaker raised his hand. "Yes?" I said.

"Please, sir, what's a harlot?" The class awoke as at an electric shock.

"A harlot," I replied, "is a prostitute."

"What is a prostitute?"

By now I had that attention which teachers dream of but seldom obtain. "A prostitute," I explained, "is a woman who has intercourse with men for money."

This appeared to satisfy him and the class sank back into its autumnal languor. But at the close of the hour he approached my desk and confided, "Isn't it awful to think that anyone would do that, even for money?"

As a footnote I may add that he is now happily married and the father of three children.

For some reason he took a liking to me and insisted upon coming into Bishop the next year. I tried to dissuade him, pointing out that my dormitory was usually inhabited by rather a rough crowd, but he persisted. He was, perhaps, the most tactless boy I have ever known, and tact is not a major quality of that age group. He would come to my room and weep because he was not better liked by the others. His first roommate left him after a week or two because he was subjected to Bible readings, viva voce, every evening after dinner. I was the recipient of several of his crushing remarks. When the news of Mr. Benner's imminent retirement became known, the Quaker, who was, and still is, an enthusiast for Greek, asked me who would be teaching Greek the next year. I said that I should. "Good," was his reply. "I don't care who teaches it so long as it is taught." He had a sloppy practice to tearing up letters just received and stuffing them into his mailbox. When I ordered him to clean out the box he said, "May I ask what business that is of yours?" He had no intention of being insolent, though he certainly sounded so; he simply said bluntly what was in his mind.

I think that a psychiatrist would discern a deep emotional motive behind this tearing-up of letters. His father was inexorable and, to my mind, quite unreasonable in his demands upon the boy who was an exceptionally devoted and industrious student, of more than average ability, albeit a little slow in his thought patterns. I could always tell when he had had a letter from home for he would be depressed for some time afterwards. One day, nearly in tears, he showed me one of the letters and I was appalled at its severity of tone.

After the lad had graduated I received a letter from his father which I wish I had had framed. The key sentence read, "We are at a loss to understand the influence which you have obtained over J-----, an influence which many wise and good men have tried in vain to achieve." Evidently tactlessness was deeply imbedded in the family chromosomes.

One afternoon during my first tenure of Bishop Hall I heard loud voices and laughter in the room across the hall from mine. I stepped over and knocked, an amenity which I was scrupulous to observe, then entered. Some half-dozen boys were standing about with glasses in their hands.

"What are you drinking?" I asked.

"Tom Collinses, sir," replied one Cameron LaClair. "Will you have one?"

"No, thanks," I said, in smiling appreciation of the jest and returned to my room.

LaClair could hardly wait to have his diploma in his hand before coming to me to tell me that they had indeed been drinking Tom Collinses.

I believe that this famous instance of chutzpah practiced on me has been related wherever Andover men come together. But there is a postscript. By some curious fate, LaClair and I, both in the service, met, first in Washington, then in London, and each time had a drink together in memory of the famous Tom Collins. Then, one cold winter afternoon in Paris in 1945 I noticed my secretary in the OSS Office staring across my shoulder through the window behind me. I turned and beheld Cameron waving blithely from a window across the courtyard. We met after work and had several martinis before we discussed where we should eat. Since all French restaurants were off-limits for American servicemen at the time it came down to a choice of Messes, from a very limited number.

"Nothing but the best," we told ourselves and headed for the SHAEF Mess in the Hotel Crillon. (SHAEF stood for "Supreme Headquarters American Expeditionary Forces and was the acronym for Eisenhower's Headquarters.)

Confronted by a register to sign I signed my name, followed by Captain, AUS, OSS. Cameron signed his: Cameron LaClair, 1st Lt., followed by an impressive but entirely fictitious series of initials. We were seated at a table next to a brigadier general who stared at us suspiciously. Glancing around I saw a veritable constellation of stars and nothing lowlier than two eagles. We ate a rather subdued and disappointingly ordinary dinner and departed.

A few days later I encountered Cameron on the street. "Been to SHAEF lately?" I asked.

"I took a WAC there the other night and we were thrown out."

When I wrote the first draft of this book and was reminded of those carefree days I looked up Cameron in the Andover Alumni Directory. I found him listed as occupying a position of some eminence in the Department of State. So I wrote him recalling our adventures, but no reply has ever come.

In the same house with Ted Harrison and Hank Williams was a boy who enjoyed playing the role of talebearer, not realizing, perhaps, how much I detested the practice. The other boys were, of course, aware of this and plotted a revenge upon him. I awoke one night to the sound of a curious tapping noise from outside my window. I went to my window and perceived a cord hanging down past it and swaying with a slow rhythm in time with the tapping. Being wise by experience I did not stick out my head, but I did ascertain that the tapping was coming from the window of the bedroom immediately beneath my own where the stool pigeon lived. I put on slippers and robe and went upstairs to the bedroom above mine, whence I had detected suppressed whispers and giggles. This was Hank Williams' room. There I found gathered a small but select group, one of them swinging the cord while others held at the ready a wastebasket full of water which they planned to empty upon the head of their foe. With inward regrets I put an end to their plans and all went back to bed. Apparently their intended victim was never awakened.

Many years later, after the War, another such plan was more successful. The editor of the school paper at the time was an early harbinger of the student revolts of the 60's, In view of my reputation for dictatorial methods he decided to act the rôle of adversary reporter against me and requested an interview in my Bishop apartment. I acceded to the request, determined to give him all the controversial statements for which he hoped. But my loyal Bishopites got wind of the matter and, detesting the editor, decided to dampen his enthusiasm. The bathrooms in Bishop are directly above the front steps. One group awaited the crusading journalist on the steps while another stood by the bathroom window on the third floor with several wastebaskets full of water. The boys on the steps engaged the visitor in conversation, gradually luring him to a position directly beneath the fatal window. Then they stepped quickly back and a cascade of water descended upon the juvenile Bernstein. He retreated in sopping disarray and never requested another appointment.

I have written at some length about my problems with Bishop House in the year after the War. During the winter they had gradually settled into an acceptance of the fact that I was Master in deed as well as in title. But in the spring, to misquote Lord Alfred, a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of riot, sometimes called the rites of spring.

One May evening I had been in Boston. On my return I entered the door to find the walls of the first floor corridor streaming and the floors awash with milk and chocolate milk. As I gazed, a boy emerged from the bathroom, saw me, and at once assumed an expression of horrified innocence. He knew nothing, he protested, and since I never wished to have boys tattle unless on themselves, I turned from him, aroused the whole three floors of boys from their beds, and lined them up as for a military inspection. I then walked slowly down the line, looking each boy in the eye. This very nearly proved my undoing, for I then first realized how effective the cosmetic advertisements had been upon the young American male. Fully half the boys, many of them six-foot footballers and hockey players, had their faces coated with unguents of some sort or another. I was hard put to keep a straight face, but I did.

"Half the world," I thundered, "is starving, yet the only use you can find for milk is to throw it at one another. This is a fine performance, a few weeks from graduation. I am going to my room," I continued, "and shall remain there for one hour. When I come out I expect to find every trace of this revel cleaned up. If it is, nothing more will be said; if not, I shall go to the Headmaster in the morning."

I mounted the stairs to my room and for nearly an hour I listened to murmurings and scurryings below, thinking what a fool I should look if I did have to carry out my threat, for, after, all, I was responsible for the House. I emerged to empty silence. As I descended the stairs I saw a spotless hallway, walls, doors and floor all glistening from the grease in the milk which had been wiped away. How many towels were sacrificed to the cleanup I never knew nor cared.

I have always loved the beauty of the Andover campus, with its graceful elms, as long as they were spared by the Dutch pestilence, and its spacious lawns. I gained considerable notoriety for my activity in protecting the latter from the scars of student short-cuts. (It may be recalled that this ecological bias surfaced early in my youth when I threw scalding water on trespassers upon the family greensward.) Various myths arose concerning my punishments of errant students. In the next entry of Bartlet Hall to mine, there once lived an engaging student named Ben Jackson. It happened that I had not laid eyes upon him for weeks during one winter; so, encountering him one day after lunch outside the Commons, I said, "Where've you been all winter, Ben?"

"I've been walking on the grass under the snow," was his cheeky reply.

Although I do not wish to emulate the fatuity of Cicero who published a collection of his own witticisms, I cannot resist quoting what I feel was my best put-down of a student. After all I have related a few of their japes upon me. One year I had in my class a student belonging to a genre which I particularly detest, that of the millionaire Communist. He never missed an opportunity to trot out his favorite doctrines for the benefit of the class. But finally he delivered himself into my hands. He began waving his hand wildly, so I asked, "What is the matter, W---?"

"Someone has taken my pencil," he said indignantly.

"Surely," I said sweetly, "you mean our pencil."

We had no more Communist preaching in that class.

I recall two spectacular practical jokes involving the School as a whole. As I have said before, the Andover campus is divided by a busy highway which is a source of constant anxiety to the authorities. Only a kind Providence has averted a fatal accident there over the years. At one point it was decided to reduce the danger by dividing the road with a raised, grassy center strip. Of course, during the construction of this island the road was littered with all the customary paraphernalia, including wooden barriers and red lanterns.

One spring evening Boston-bound traffic found itself diverted by barriers and detour signs pointing into the West Campus where further signs directed it on down into a group of faculty houses known as Little Siberia. There the road comes to a dead end. For a short time, until police arrived to untangle the mess, students leaned from House windows and cheered as passenger cars crept and trailer trucks lumbered through the anfractuosities of Campus Road, only to come to a frustrated halt in a lengthening line of vehicles for which there was no place to go.

Another prank, less troublesome to the public but blasphemous in the eyes of Mohammedans, occurred one spring evening just after supper. The required senior course in American History was one of the most feared and most heartily cursed of all in the Andover curriculum. And, of course, it was that which most alumni later voted as their most valuable intellectual experience in the School. The evening in question was that before the dreaded final examination, upon which many a diploma depended. After supper large numbers of seniors drifted over from Commons to the Great Quadrangle in front of Samuel Phillips Hall, the chief recitation building. A good many idle spectators, myself included, followed to see what was preparing.

Suddenly, above the great pillared portico, a tall, turbaned form appeared, clothed in flowing robes. It salaamed, presumably toward Mecca, though I fear the orientation was faulty. Then the figure began a prayer the words of which I do not recall. As it prayed, the throng of seniors fell to their knees and then prostrated themselves repeatedly while cries of "Allah! Allah!" arose in the evening air. His prayer finished, the pretended imam withdrew, after another deep salaam. The Bible tells us that "the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Whether it proved so in this case I never learned.

One of the most charming pranks ever carried out on the Hill occurred either on Hallowe'en or April Fool's Even, I cannot recall which. The ever-increasing strain put upon the original facilities of the library by the throngs of note-taking students in American History led a grateful and generous alumnus, James Copley, the newspaper publisher from California, to give the School a new wing for the Library, to be devoted exclusively to books and study in that course. The main library is in the Georgian style so popular in the 20's when it was built; the Copley Wing is in the modern functional style with walls largely of glass. The students were quick to note the resemblance to the appearance of automobile showrooms and so some bright spirits, in the dark of the night, somehow opened the doors, moved back all the tables to the walls, and rolled in a Thunderbird belonging to one of the sportier young faculty members. When the School went to breakfast the following morning, the Copley Wing appeared to have reverted to its natural architectural function. Not only had this joke been carried out without detection by faculty members asleep in Houses nearby but it also escaped the vigilance of the night watchmen, supposedly on patrol. Best of all, it was engineered without damage to building, books, or car.

I usually asked my Houses to refrain from the Andover custom of presenting the Housemaster with a Christmas gift, pointing out that they might well come to regret their generosity after subsequent encounters with my discipline. But one year, my first in Bartlet Hall, I had a House so cold and indifferent to me --they seldom came in for the after study-hours sessions --- that I decided that there was no call to issue the usual request. The probability of a present from them seemed most remote. But when I returned from my post-Christmas trip to New York, I found a present in front of my door. Accordingly, the night when they returned I went around from room to room making my little thank-you speech. When I had delivered it in the triple suite next to my own apartment, one of the denizens remarked, "You don't need to thank us; we didn't contribute."

I have again and again spoken of my amazing good luck and it never was more strikingly evident than in the following incident which I include here even though it is not concerned with the boys. For many years it has been a pleasant custom for me to spend Christmas Eve with the Grews whenever circumstances permit. One year, as I was preparing to set out for their house, I realized that I had gifts for all save Alma's mother, Madame Clayburgh, who had just returned from Europe and who would almost certainly have a gift for me. As I puzzled what I should do, I recalled that Henriette De Costier had sent me a few years before a box of several of her hand-painted silk scarves. A cursory inspection had shown that they were a bit too feminine for me to wear on the Andover campus so I had put them away without fully unwrapping them. I hastily took one from the box, still in its original tissue paper and wrapped it in Christmas paper as well. As I anticipated, Madame had a present for me, so I presented mine to her. She unwrapped the outer, then the inner paper, exclaimed at the beauty of the scarf then unfolded it fully and cried, "And my initials, too." My heart stopped for a moment, then I saw the A.C. which stood as well for Alma Clayburgh as for Alston Chase.


6. In Retrospect

On June 4, 1971, my 65th birthday, I taught my last class, thus ending a teaching career which had begun in September, 1928. I retired, as I had long planned, here to my ancestral farm in Berwick, Maine, where I have lived in perfect contentment ever since. I enjoy the affectionate companionship of a dog and cat, felicitously nicknamed "The Odd Couple" by Roger Magoun. Then, too, there is the mute companionship of my books, some of which I am re-reading after a space of 40 years. Ever since I read of the self-sufficiency of Hippias, the Greek Sophist, I have wished to emulate him, and so I do, so far as my capabilities allow. I do all my own housework --- cooking, cleaning, laundry, even to bed linen. Several lawns and a tiny garden give me physical exercise and I pick wild berries and preserve them against the winter. I exchange luncheons with old friends; my neighbors are most kind and solicitous for the welfare of an aging, solitary bachelor --- I must name, particularly, my closest neighbors, the Harmons and the Adamses, and, above all Verne and Jean Brackett, friends of many decades. Last Easter, when I telephoned Jean to say that I would be unable to come to dinner with them because of a bad case of flu, she was so alarmed by my voice that she was down here with her car in a few minutes to rush me up to the Emergency Room in a nearby hospital. All these good neighbors do me uncounted kindnesses throughout the year.

Also I must mention Roger and Barbara Dufresne of Andover, who, with their brood of lively children, have provided me with a surrogate family.

And my family connections with Berwick have assured me of a quicker acceptance in the community than Maine natives customarily give immigrants. Above all I have been blessed with excellent health and, thus far, a minimum of the disabilities inevitable for old age. Only the suicidal folly of our decadent civilization and our politicians mar the serenity of these years.

Long and deeply as I loved to teach I have not missed it for a moment nor regretted leaving the School which had been my life for all but three of 37 years. This calls for an explanation, and I am concluding this book with an account of Andover as I have known it since 1934.

I have already made passing reference to some of the customs of the School at the time when I first knew it, above all to the stem, but just, code of discipline. Although the acquisition of the land and buildings of the Theological School and then the great building and landscaping program in the 20's, paid for by the munificence of that devoted alumnus Thomas Cochran, had vastly enlarged and beautified the physical aspects of the School, it was, when I first taught there still, in its organization, very much the old New England school which Doctor Fuess entitled it in his history. There was a student body of between 600 and 650 which I am not alone in considering an optimum number for the task we undertook to do. The faculty numbered and was a distinguished one then, and destined to become even more so during the next decade.

Most remarkable in those days was the small administrative force which, after Parkinson's Law, has since spread with the rapidity of a malignant growth. Here is a list of those who occupied George Washington Hall, the Administration's building, in the mid-30's: Claude M. Fuess was the Headmaster, Lester Lynde, the Dean of the Faculty; they shared the services of secretary, Miss Greenwood. Dean Lynde, in addition to his duties as Dean, handled all Admissions and taught some classes in Mathematics, a fact that shows that I was not quite so mad as some supposed when I decided to teach my regular schedule in addition to being Acting Dean. Willett Eccles, as Registrar, was in charge of student discipline, housing and college admissions. Miss Alice T. Whitney, the Recorder kept all records of grades, attendance, cuts, and demerits. A woman of incredible dedication and elephantine memory, she kept track of the whereabouts, the goings and comings, and the grades of every student in the School with an accuracy no computer could possibly match. She reached the age of 100 in the present year (1977) and when I lunched with her recently was as keen and sharp in mind as ever, recalling countless "Old Boys" the moment their names were mentioned. (I am sad to have to add that Miss Whitney died on December 10, 1977 from complications arising from a broken hip.)

Incidentally, only once were the boys a bit too much for her. In one of their pleasantest pranks, they invented at the first of the year, a fictitious character known as J. Montague Fitzpatrick, whom they signed in and out of the Library and of dormitories and classes. Poor Miss Whitney could not find the name on any records of admissions nor in any of the official lists of new students, and it was some weeks before the prank was fully exposed.

I have spoken above of her uncanny accuracy in checking on student movements about Campus and on the performance of Housemasters. Far more than any other person in the School, she trained new students and new Masters in the ways of punctuality and probity. She and Mr. Eccles shared one or two secretaries between them.

Grenville Benedict, who succeeded Willett Eccles, was a great innovator and it was no secret that he looked forward impatiently to Miss Whitney's retirement, which would make way for all those wonderful, glittering machines and file cabinets. Eventually the day came and "efficiency" took over. There is a story, I hope not apocryphal, that one night when Dean Benedict was toiling beneath the blazing lights of his office, there was a tap on the half-open window and Miss Whitney's bird-like, precise New England voice was heard: "Working late, Dean Benedict?"

Alumni affairs were handled by Scott Paradise, in addition to his English classes and, so far as I know, he had no separate secretary. He was one of the best examples I have known of the perfect gentleman from the day when courtesy was admired, imitated, and not ridiculed.

Admissions and Alumni Affairs each is now a separate office, each with one or more secretaries and several assistant faculty members who help in their spare time.

The athletic program was directed by the School physician, Dr. Pearson S. Page, but its outstanding figure was Ray Shepard whom I have described in an earlier chapter.

I have described the excellent Fuess curriculum which had just been instituted when I went to Andover. By the 50's and 60's the academic termites had begun their work, and one after another of the uncomfortably challenging requirements were eaten away. First the language requirement was reduced to three years of one language, then the history sequence fell, leaving only the American History requirement, and that, too, is not what it was under Freeman and his successor, Arthur Darling. Mathematics has managed to hold its ground although that, too, is under attack as being "too hard" for certain minority students. Social Studies intruded into English and Religion. There is a tale of one Old Boy who, after a visit to the old School, shook his head and said that he did not know what it was coming to, for the English classes were reading Pilgrim's Progress (some of the younger men would have preferred something "relevant" by Eldridge Cleaver) and the Religion Department was reading Catcher in the Rye. Compulsory Chapel fell first from the daily requirement and then, under prompting by the School minister, from the Sunday. Academic credit began to be given for all sorts of "activities" --- volunteer service in hospitals or other such institutions, Terms in Washington, projects of all sorts --- gathering seashells on Florida beaches was a favorite gambit until even the more lenient faculty found that a bit too much. Children of 14 and 15 were allowed to substitute academic sweets for academic meat and potatoes. Term-contained courses were substituted for the old year-long ones, so that students could flit about from one to another throughout the year.

The old set rules and punishments began to yield to a policy of "every boy a special case" and "save that boy." Psychiatrists descended upon us bringing chaos and old night. Again and again I and a few others argued in Faculty meeting that too often an attempt to "save that boy" resulted in keeping a rotten apple which spoiled the rest of the barrel and I brandished my Latin by quoting: "Salus populi suprema lex esto." But it was all in vain. And it went on so for years; then, last spring, to my vast delight, the students finally announced that they had had enough of the special case system and asked for a definite code of behavior administered with some degree of consistency. So I hope the School may be heading into better weather.

I will add one point of personal resentment which deepened my rancor against the permissive cadre and illustrates the destructive influence of one of their innovations. About four years before my retirement the History Department initiated a two-year sequence for the upper middle (junior) and senior years. Students would take the required American History as uppers, then choose among several options --- Latin American History, Far Western History, Ancient History and others. They invited me to give the Ancient History and I spent nearly two years making up a syllabus which including reading in both primary and secondary sources. The purpose of the course was to trace both political and cultural developments in ancient times which were parallel to and influential upon modern governments and civilization in the West. I put heavy emphasis upon the policies and factors which led first to the flowering and then to the collapse of Greece and Rome and I took particular care to point out those elements in the ancient culture which became the heritage, first of the Middle Ages, and then of our own times.

Obviously, the full year was essential to the development of my theme. But as soon as I retired, the faculty introduced the "term-contained" courses. As a consequence the whole raison d'être of my course was destroyed and my careful syllabus discarded. Most ironic of all, the advocates of relevancy had deprived my course of that very element.

I served under two headmasters, Claude M. Fuess and John M. Kemper. I have described Dr. Fuess in earlier pages. Before I go on to discuss Mr. Kemper, let me say that I owe both men a debt of gratitude, not merely for the rapid advancement which they gave me, but for the tolerance they showed my frequently bitter criticism of their policies and my cantankerousness.

It is very difficult for me to write about John Kemper who was, perhaps, the most enigmatic man I ever knew. When I was told that I was to work closely with him as Acting Dean of the Faculty for a year I imagined that I should discover the answers to at least some of the riddles. Yet, at the end of that year I was no more enlightened. I asked the regular Dean, Alan Blackmer, whether, after years of close association, he felt that he had achieved any intimacy; he confessed that he had not. There was some curious inability on Johnny's part to give himself to others, some barrier which could never be surmounted.

Though we disagreed heatedly on some matters of academic policy, particularly in the realm of discipline, where he was very much of the "save that boy" school, he treated me, as I have said, with the utmost generosity in respect to promotion and salary. He was a man of deep compassion toward all in sorrow and distress as I witnessed many times during my tenure as Dean. At times I thought him too compassionate toward both faculty members and boys who richly deserved dismissal. He worked tirelessly to benefit the faculty in matters of salary and perquisites winning for us, amongst other things, a system of sabbatical leaves whose generosity left most university professors incredulous.

John M. Kemper, Headmaster from 1948-1971

The great riddle about John Kemper was his attitude toward discipline. The son of an Army family and himself a graduate of West Point, he seemed at times to disown his own military background. Indeed, he appeared to bristle at references to it and to feel that faculty and students were waiting to find an opportunity to charge him with military austerity. He hesitated to act in an arbitrary fashion as is often necessary for headmasters and the students interpreted this as weakness. I recall one riot at Abbot Academy, the nearby girls' school, at which Andover students made insolent and derisive remarks to him for which they should have been expelled on the spot, yet he did nothing. He refused to risk a confrontation. Yet, had he but realized it, he was a person of truly formidable presence.

In fairness we must recall that that was the most disgraceful chapter in American education, the era of student activism and faculty pusillanimity. I used to wish that Johnny would stand firm on matters of dress, hair length, demonstrations and adult authority, believing that had he done so, Andover would have moved into the 70's in a position of towering preeminence among preparatory schools instead of, in Lucan's words "standing, the shadow of a mighty name." However, I now realize that he could hardly have done this, given a Board of Trustees heavily weighted in favor of current fads and a generation of parents dedicated to Spockish permissiveness. Headmastership, like politics, is too often the art of the possible.

I have been harsh in my comment upon Andover largely because I loved her so much; in the noble words of Proverbs: "faithful are the wounds of a friend." But in justice to her, it must be remembered that her mistakes are only to be judged against the background of the disastrous decline in standards of all American education in the last quarter-century. Even with the failings which I have noted she is still far superior to the public schools and she provides a comparatively superior education when judged against the prevailing standards. "In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king."

In the winter of 1971 Mr. Kemper underwent what was supposed to be a routine physical examination which revealed a small, suspicious spot upon one lung. An operation resulted in the discovery of a malignancy which necessitated the removal of a large portion of the lung. We were not told at the time that the cancer was of a particularly virulent type and through the spring he made a recovery so rapid that he was able to preside at the Commencement in June. It happened that I was retiring that year and was the only faculty member so doing. The graduating class had been a peculiarly ungracious and troublesome one and Johnnie did not feel able to make his usual half-jesting speech of farewell to them. Accordingly he spent his words upon laudatory summary of my career. As I was seated next to him on the platform it was one of the most acutely embarrassing moments in my life and I am sure that my face was as red as my Harvard Doctor's gown. It was the sort of teasing jest which he enjoyed and, alas, it was one of the last which he would be permitted to play.

During the summer a metastasis to the spine declared itself.

He worked a few weeks during the fall when I saw him briefly and nearly broke down in pity during our brief interview. He made a farewell speech to the boys, who slowly awoke to its significance, for one of them said to a Master afterwards: "He is going home to die." The final mercy came in the first week of December.

I am sure that many of my readers have made inner comments upon the self-assurance with which I have set myself up against the opinions of so many authorities of our time. I should not have had the effrontery to do so had I not again and again been proved correct in my forecasts of the results of their policies and had I not the evidence of history as to the consequences of many popular doctrines. When the Civil Rights movement first began I said that the great problems would not be in the South but in the great northern cities. At the time when my colleagues were greeting with delight the news that the Federal government would be distributing largesse to educational institutions I warned that such aid meant Federal intervention in academic policies. I was laughed at as Chase, the old mossback, but there is little laughter now as Academia finds that it has sold its birthright of academic freedom for a mess of HEW pottage. From another point of view, the history of the Roman Empire teaches us that an idle city mob, maintained at government expense turns into a monster whose riots can dominate the State; teaches us also that a vast bureaucracy is a malignant growth which cannot be checked and which eventually devours all the productive forces of the land. Nearly 50 years ago, in one of the wisest books of this century, Ortega y Gasset showed how, in a flood of egalitarianism, the ignorant masses would overwhelm the intelligent leaders which every society must have if it is to survive.

For some years now I have been impressed by the deep wisdom in two ancient myths, those of the Tree of Knowledge and of Antaeus. The first foretold that if man ate of the Tree of Knowledge he would surely die and our scientific knowledge has provided us with the tools of our self destruction. Antaeus was a gigantic son of earth who drew renewed strength from his mother every time he touched her. Heracles could only overcome him by holding him aloft out of contact with earth. Is this not an image of our society which has removed us farther and farther from Nature? So, in a curious paradox whereby all extremes meet in the end, I find myself at one with the ecologists whose general ethos would seem so far removed from my social and political conservatism.

Rudyard Kipling, who saw the beginnings of the new society and the new ethics, summed up his position and my own in a not-very-well-known poem which I should like to quote:


 As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers, I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed, They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud --- nor windborne like the Gods of the Marketplace,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Whoo promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual Peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
And when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the fuller life,
(Which started by loving our neighbor and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: 'The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all
By robbing selected Peter to pay for Collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Marks tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew,
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, that Two and Two Make Four ---
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.


As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man ---
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began --
That the Dog returns to his 1/omit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins,
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return.



I am mindful of Solon's counsel to Croesus, to count no man's life happy until one sees its end, but thus far mine has been exceptionally happy and blessed by fortune. I had a childhood of secure and affectionate discipline; an adolescence full of dreams and long thoughts; a career in teaching which I loved from the first day to the last; a military experience of unusual interest, with just sufficient danger to lend it excitement; and now a golden retirement, good health, and a disposition which has always enabled me to proportion my desires to my income. And those things which I wanted most in my boyhood dreams -- books, travel, long friendships and warm love -- these I have had in abundance. And them no man, no untoward future can take from me.

Editor's Note:

After a long and mainly golden retirement, Dr. Chase died on March 10, 1994 --- just a few months short of seeing this book in print. He however, celebrate its impending publication at a small champagne party to which he invited several close friends and neighbors just 10 days before his death.

The first draft of the book was written in 1972, a formidable task for a first year of "retirement," and was followed by a second draft in 1977.

When first taken to a publisher he was told that "this book would be of little interest to anyone and, at the very least would have to be completely re-written." With that discouraging verdict, Dr. Chase laid the work aside for many years until, in 1993, a casual conversation with a former student and friend brought the book back to light. The enthusiasm of that reader convinced Dr. Chase to try another publisher.

And so, it is our pleasure to bring to you Dr. Chase' story ---just as he wrote it!

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