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Buck Duke's University
Back cover of "Mind of the South" Mercury, October, 1929. And you thought things had changed so much since 1929...
And the colorful inner leaf of the same issue...
Perhaps, it is no wonder that Cash was a chronic smoker.
Site Publisher's Note: In the sixth article for the Mercury, appearing in September, 1933, a mere five months after his setting-in-the-pillory Charlotte, in Calvinist Lhasa, Cash raised his increasingly biting, sardonic pen to Old Buck Duke, (James Buchanan Duke), founder of the American Tobacco Company in Durham and the Duke Endowment and responsible for the construction of Duke University out of old Methodist-affiliated Trinity College. Not incidentally, therefore, Cash also took on the powerful Duke Power Company. This article was apparently suggested to Cash by Mencken who disdained the young Duke campus as pedestrian and stuck in Methodist traditions--"a great Fundamentalist college for yokels," howled Mencken. (See W. J. Cash: A Life, by Bruce Clayton, (a Duke graduate) pp. 99-103.) Cash echoed the sentiment loudly, referring consistently to it in the piece as a "milltown" university devoted to "Babbittry" in its founding principles. (It has been a long time since Sinclair Lewis wrote his vaunted 1922 book, Babbitt--and, for that matter, several years since our present Secretary of the Interior's last name led to snickers during his run for the Presidency--and so it is worth a reminder, without condescension or any suggestion that any good Duke graduate reading this might not get it, (especially coming from a graduate of the University of North Carolina, as I regret not to tell you it is), that "Babbitt" refers not to any real person or, for truly old-timers, to the pouring of Babbitt metal to make engine bearings for Model A Fords, but rather was a fictional character, George Babbitt, a resident of Zenith, the "Zip City", given to too strongly held middle class values of materialism and mercantilism for sheer profit; in short, (and why not?), a self-satisfied Philistine.) Apologies to Terry Sanford, Charlie Rose, Professor Clayton, Professor C. Eric Lincoln, Professor Raymond Gavins, and a host of other good and wise people from within and without the State who have graced the halls of Duke with high dignity since this article appeared and who would have most likely caused revision of opinion by Cash--or perhaps only serve to fulfill his concluding prophecy in the article that progressive voices would ultimately prevail at Duke over the Babbitts.
That bit of digression should
adequately serve as an exercise to prepare your mind--even if you
went to N.C. State or Wake Forest or some place else, (for
instance, Princeton or Stanford), other than The Magical Campus
at Pulpit Hill, as Thomas Wolfe, an admiree of Cash, called my
alma mater--for the exercise necessary to get through this
humorous, but often convoluted, evocation by Cash. Cash, remember,
graduated from Wake Forest, then in the town of Wake Forest--not
yet moved down the brown-leaf laden road by the other tobacco
magnate in North Carolina to Winston-Salem until 1954--and the
relatively progressive little campus, being then only 15 miles or
so from Durham, gave Cash some ample chance to witness from not
too far away some of the Trinity offerings, coming evermore under
the thumb of Old Buck Duke, about whom Cash would mince no words
for Mencken a decade plus a year after matriculation. So proceed
Duke Campus, as depicted in August, 1941 National Geographic article, "Tarheelia on Parade", by Leonard C. Roy
BUCK DUKE'S UNIVERSITY
THE late Buck Duke's immediate aim in pouring out his millions to transform an obscure Methodist college in a North Carolina mill-town into the university which now bears his name was simplicity itself. What he wanted was a Babbitt factory--a mill for grinding out go-get-'em boys in the wholesale and undeviating fashion in which his Chesterfield plant across the way ground out cigarettes. In this, of course, he did not depart from the normal American pattern in such cases. Old Leland Stanford, for example, had much the same end in view in pouring out his millions at Palo Alto. But there was this difference: that whereas, vanity aside, Stanford's immediate aim may be set down for his ultimate aim, old Buck's can not be. What he had in mind in the long run was Profits, and, to the end of Profits, the preservation of the status quo.
It sounds sinister. But in reality it was enormously innocent. Everything old Buck ever did was done to the ultimate end of Profits, for Profits was the only thing he ever came to understand in his sixty-eight years on this planet. For all other purposes, he remained to the end essentially what he was at seventeen, a red-headed, shambling Methodist-jake out of Orange county, North Carolina--which is to say, a sort of peasant out of the Eleventh Century, incredibly ignorant, incredibly obtuse, incredibly grasping and picayune. But in this matter of Profits he was a transcendent genius. I use the words advisedly, for in this realm he saw, not as common men see, not even as a Rockefeller or a Carnegie sees, not with thought as such but with Bergsonian immediateness--with all the marvellous and intuitive grasp of the Real which distinguishes those founding wasps celebrated by Jean Henri Fabre. Naturally, then, considering his history, it seemed to him that Profits was the only reasonable excuse for the universe, the only rational end of man. And natural too, he hated whatever threatened Profits. Above all, he hated Theory.
Theory, he believes, was always raising hell with things in
his youth. He had built himself up a magnificent Profits-machine,
the American Tobacco Company. But Theory had hounded him
mercilessly and at last it had sicked the Attorney-General of the
United States on him, to damAge his machine sadly. He had come
back South then, back to Carolina to discover the Catawba river
and set up a new Profits mill, the Southern (now the Duke) Power
Company. It was a nearly perfect one, better than any mere
tobacco combine. You built a dam for a million dollars, and you
sold it to yourself for eight million and the accommodating rate
commissioners in Raleigh and Columbia agreed that you were
entitled to the ridiculously low return of 3% on the millions you
paid yourself, and most of the newspapers
BUCK DUKE'S UNIVERSITY 103
only agreed, but added gratuitously you were a great public benefactor, worthy of the grateful admiration of every genuine patriot and Christian.
But even in this paradise, Theory could, and would, raise its snaky head. There was, for example, Josephus Daniels bawling, in his Raleigh News and Observer, some damned nonsense about robbing the people. And after the War for Democracy, there was the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, reneging on all its old sound principles and turning out cart-loads of Theorists to afflict honest men. Worse, the time was drawing on when old Buck himself would have to shake off this flesh and betake himself to the Methodist Paradise. Since that had to be, he reckoned he could stand it: indeed, he was counting on a pretty good seat Up There. But what he couldn't stand was the thought of Profits ending when he was gone. And of course Profits would end. Left to themselves, the chuckleheads to whom it would be necessary to entrust the management of things would inevitably succumb to the smart Theorists. He would have to fix that if he was ever going to have any peace in Heaven.
And so, out of his genius he fashioned the Duke Endowment. Forty-two per cent of the income on $80,ooo,ooo (mainly in Duke Power stock) for hospitals and orphans, 10% for building Methodist churches in the sticks, and 2% for the support of superannuated Methodist preachers. That ought to hold the Legislature, eh? The Theorists wouldn't get far there, heh? How could you attack Profits now without attacking religion and the care of the helpless? It was them danged colleges, with their crazy-pot professors, that was mainly responsible for Theorists, wasn't it? Wasn't that where most of 'em came from?
No, he wasn't agin education. Only--it must be the right kind of education. You could have a practical college, couldn't you--one that would inoculate the boys against Theory and fix them up to make money for themselves instead of nosing around in other people's business? Yeah, and preachers and lawyers and doctors and teachers--these also helped to make public opinion, didn't they? If they were trained right, would they want to monkey with a great eleemosynary institution like the Duke Power Company? All right, then, let us have a real university, with no Theorists and plenty of money--42% of the income of the first $40,ooo,ooo, 10% of the income of the second $40,000,000, $10,000,000 for a medical school. That ought to fix things, hunh?
Chuckling deep in his belly, old Buck died in great contentment in 1925.
Seven years after, along in September,1932, the Hon. David Clark, editor of the Southern Textile Bulletin and Carolina's chiefest champion of the status quo, was giggling in great good humor. Brother Clark knew a joke when he saw one--and here was that crazy renegade preacher, Norman Thomas, running for President on the Socialist ticket, and asking the North Carolina Board of Elections to include his name on the State's ballot, sacrosanct time out of mind to good Democrats and low Republicans! And the board was replying, tongue in cheek, that he could get it put there only if he complied with its quaint interpretation of the election law and presented petitions bearing the names of ten thousand authentic Tar Heels. Ten thousand names! They might as well have said a million.
Then, on a morning, Brother Clark,
THE AMERICAN MERCURY 104
still giggling, opened his newspaper--and abruptly left off giggling and seized a wrathful pen.
What would Mister Duke say, hunh? What would Mister Duke say, hunh?
If it was that crowd at Chapel Hill, now.... But Newman Ivey White, professor of English in Duke University, and Holton Smith, professor of religion in Duke University!--that these should take the lead in defending a Socialist, in attacking the Elections Board, in yapping about "fairplay"--really, it was too dreadful for thinking.
But poor Brother Clark was to see more dreadful things yet. Within a week the Duke men had drawn so much blood that the Rev. Thomas's name actually went on the ballot. And in October, the Rev. Thomas, coming down to Raleigh in person to make a campaign speech, was introduced to his audience by the aforesaid Newman Ivey White, professor of English in Duke University. And at about the same time, the Liberal Club of Durham, composed mainly of Duke faculty members, sponsored the appearance of a speaker who roared for government ownership of utilities. And in November the American Civil Liberties Union (which Brother Clark had repeatedly proved to be in the pay of the Moscow cannibals) announced that "fourteen prominent Americans" had signed a letter threatening the prison commissioners of Georgia with Federal court action unless they put an end to the infamous malpractises in the State's prison camps, and among the fourteen were listed, along with Oswald Garrison Villard, Arthur Garfield Hays, James Weldon Johnson, and William Pickens--yes, along with this company of inflammatory Reds and sassy coons, there were Dr. Elbert Russell, dean of the School of Religion in Duke University, and Dr. Charles A. Ellwood, professor of sociology in the same great institution.
What would Mister Duke say, hunh? What would Mister Duke say, hunh?
Well, old Buck was away in the Methodist Heaven and so couldn't say, wherefore Judge William R. Perkins of New York, one time his lawyer and now chairman of the Duke Endowment, said it for him. Speaking at the annual celebration of the establishment of the endowment in Charlotte on December 11, he first quoted the Founder's words from the indenture:
I have selected Duke University as one of the principal objects of this trust because I recognize that education, when conducted along sane and practical, as opposed to dogmatic and theroetical lines, is next to religion the greatest civilizing1 influence.
And then went on:
Such a statement is most refreshing and salutary in these Depression days when all sorts of isms are being vociferously hailed as sovereign panaceas, especially by some of those connected with our educational institutions, whose inexperience in everyday affairs has caused them to lose the practical in the theoretical. No such nostrums appealed to Mr. Duke.... He ... stood four-square on the principles of our American government, believing that they constituted the best means whereby necessary individualism could attain its perfection, as illustrated in industry in his own life and in official life by Abraham Lincoln. . . So essential were these views deemed by Mr. Duke that he authorized the trustees of the Endowment to withhold its benefits even from Duke University should that institution "in their judgment" be not "operated in a manner calculated to achieve the results intended."
Hearing that, the Hon. William Preston Few, A.B., A.M., Ph.D.,
Litt.D., LL.D., president of Trinity College since
'John Wilber Jenkins, in
quoting the indenture in his book, "James B. Duke: Master
Builder," makes this word stabilizing.
BUCK DUKE'S UNIVERSITY 105
1910 and of Duke University since its foundation coughed nervously behind his hand and hurried back to his campus to issue one of his periodical bulls urging the students to frequent the chapel more.
Dr. Few is a somewhat transcendental old gentleman with an unworldly eye. He loves to stroll on the Campus sweeping off his hat to every passing student, and he likes, too, to expatiate on the Christian mysteries. But above everything, he likes that chapel. He loves its Perpendicular tower (inspired by Canterbury, sir, carillon of fifty bells), its vaulted nave, its bright, new, chromatic windows, its cloisters (there are cloisters! what would Bishop Asbury say?) with the wind booming through the dark pines behind, and it pains him vastly that a perverse generation passes it hourly without ever coming to pray in its cool darkness, without, indeed, ever looking at it. Himself, he like nothing better than to stroll there.
He strolled there pretty often in the days after Judge Perkins' speech, and it is not impossible that his thoughts turned now and then to the oracle's warning words. But if so he gave no sign, and he was still giving no sign when, in February, the North Carolina Legislature got around to considering a criminal syndicalism bill sent up by Mr. Clark, with the hearty approval, it may be said, of a power company which constantly boasts of the cheapness and docility of Southern labor in its advertisements. Justin Miller, dean of the School in Duke University, was busy just then, and so he sent one of his young aides, Douglas Maggs, to Raleigh to argue in his stead. And Maggs argued so well that the bill died in committee. Clark's crowd shrieked at that. Surely things were getting to a pretty pass when a great Christian State could be handed over to Communists and labor agitators through the machinations of a Duke professor!
Still Dr. Few kept on strolling in his chapel and saying nothing. Nay, to this day the good man is still strolling there and saying and doing nothing, ardently and ever more ardently.
Well, when it comes to that, there really isn't anything he could say or do. Of course, it is within the bounds of physical possibility to call the offenders in and lay down the law. But then they'd only tell him, politely or impolitely, to go to Hell for his pains. For many of them are men of established reputation, and hence tender in their egos, and all of them can have jobs elsewhere. And if they went elsewhere because of pressure at Duke, they'd nearly certainly write pieces about it for the New Republic.
Duke simply can't afford that. For, despite old Buck, it inherits a tradition of Liberalism, and that tradition, rather curiously, comes down to it from a Methodist college, the Trinity from which it descends. In 1903, the late John Spencer Bassett, then professor of history in Trinity, published an article in the South Atlantic Quarterly in which he said:
[Booker T.] Washington is a great and good man, a Christian statesman, and, take him all in all, the greatest man, save General Lee, born in the South in a hundred years.
"Treason!" snarled the whole Confederacy. "bASSett!"
yelled Josephus Daniels, forgetting that he was a Liberal. "Kick
the dirty so-and-so out!" chorused all the saviors of White
Civilization from the Potomac to the Pecos. A boycott was begun.
Parents must not send their sons to Trinity until the scoundrel
THE AMERICAN MERCURY 106
fired. All the pious cotton-mill barons announced that they had closed their purses to the college. Students withdrew. But Bassett calmly declined to resign. And the administration--Dr. Few was their only dean--showed a strange disinclination to move against him.
Then the trustees came down with blood in their collective eye, and it began to look as if the jig was up. But the president of the college in those days was old John C. Kilgo, afterwards to become, under the inscrutable will of God, a Southern Methodist bishop. A proud, forceful egotist, he had no intention of being dictated to, regardless of the issue, by anybody. With lightning in his eyes, he told the trustees that if Bassett went he went too, and thundered:
Coercion of liberty in all times has been a miserable failure.... Bury liberty here and with it the college is buried.
Thus encouraged by their headman, the faculty leaped to the charge with the declaration that "this college has now the opportunity to show that its campus is undeniably one spot on Southern soil where men's minds are free," and every man of them solemnly filed his resignation to become effective immediately if Bassett was fired.
Within the board the fight raged and roared. It was three o'clock in the morning when the final session closed, but the ballot then stood 18 to 7 for Bassett's acquittal, and resolutions were adopted which said:
The search for truth should be unhampered . . . A reasonable freedom of opinion is to a college the very breath of life; and any official throttling of the private judgment of its teachers would destroy their influence, and place upon the college an enduring stigma.
To clinch the matter, Roosevelt I came down from the White House at the next commencement to say:
I know of no other college which has so nobly set forth, as the object of its being, the principles to which every college should be devoted.
Obviously, then, with all that on record, Dr. Few's hands are tied, so far as any overt action against Liberals is concerned. Nor are his only. However much the board of trustees may yearn for the pelts of the faculty Bolsheviki, they must now suffer in silence: they are too hopelessly bound by that old and unforgotten declaration of academic freedom. Moreover, there are other restraining considerations. The trustees would never dare do anything anyhow without the approbation of the real master of the university, the Duke Endowment, and that approbation will never be given to anything likely to hold the university up to scoffing. Whether Judge Perkins knew it or not, he was simply bluffing at Charlotte. For on the staff of the Duke Power Company are some very acute members of the public relations guild, and they know just how quickly any open application of pressure would play hob with the precarious goodwill they have labored for two decades to build up, just how perfectly it would seem to confirm all that mockers have said about old Buck's Christian purposes, just how joyfully Yankee atheists and demagogues would pounce upon it.
In fine, there will be no lynchings at Duke.
Is this to say, then, that it has gone completely over to
Theory? that in a brief seven years it has already, and fully,
BUCK DUKE'S UNIVERSITY 107
verted old Buck's aims into a laughing stock and an irony? That it is not only no bulwark of Correct Thought but a potent engine of Bolshevism?
Not precisely. At the moment, indeed, and for all the Liberal activities of some of its professors, it may be said that the university as such is not a potent engine for anything. Nineteen million dollars have been spent there, in a forest of five thousand acres on the outskirts of Durham, to set up a plant to make even Chicago envious, but Duke is still without the focus, the sense of direction, which is the sine qua non of a great university.
What ails it is that it is still too much only Trinity College greatly magnified. Trinity College was born a backwoods Methodist at Old Trinity in Randolph county in 1838, and a backwoods Methodist it remained down to 1892. For years it lived around from log-cabin to log-cabin. Twice it lapsed into coma from malnutrition, and the Civil War left it flat on its back, gasping for breath. But somehow it managed to survive, somehow it stumbled on, steadily integrating its personality along Little Bethel lines and ramming Hell and damnation, hanging and calomel, and an enormous thriftiness--these things and nearly nothing else--into its students from the farms.
Then in 1892, when it was about to die finally, old Washington Duke, Buck's sire, came to its rescue with a gift of $180,000 and an abandoned race-track in Durham for a campus--and corruption set in. For to accept Old Man Duke's cigarette-begotten money and move into Durham, as he required, involved an inescapable surrender of what was then universally regarded as basic Methodist principle. Trinity had maintained steadfastly for half a century that all towns, and particularly all factory towns, were sinks of abomination, and that the cigarette was a snare of Satan second only to the Demon Rum. But the Duke money would come in handy and so it was taken.
Within a few years most of the old Fundamentalist professors had died off and were being replaced by men of an altogether different stamp--men, that is, who, beginning life as innocent Southern Methodists, had gone away to the Eastern (or even the Hun) universities to be educated beyond their Methodism if not quite out of it. These men tried earnestly to be good Liberals and still go to Heaven. They said, and made themselves believe, that "Christian education" and "the illimitable freedom of the human mind" were not really incompatibles, and that, if only you looked at it right, theology and science came to the same thing. The inevitable result for the college was a massive stultification. It lost its old fierce Jahvistic character without really acquiring a new one. It advanced to the Bad Lands of indecision and there mired, unable to make its way forward to a sound and positive Liberalism.
No, not even in the Bassett case. The tradition then set up was in the last analysis only a negative one. The issue at stake was whether the college should be guilty of an act of outright medievalism, and to that it could cry No gladly and triumphantly, but it could not really make of "the illimitable freedom of the human mind" more than an innocuous phrase. Indeed, having rescued Bassett from the lynchers, it could still make him so uncomfortable by reproachful glances that he fled as soon as he could arrange it.
In the classroom, to be sure, there was no crude Bryanesque
denial, no overt suppression of plain fact. Biology was actually
taught as biology. Nay, it was even possible for the Bible
faculty to smile in a
THE AMERICAN MERCURY 108
superior way at the common North Carolina notion that Jonah really swallowed the whale. But in the end these things were presented in such a fog of Methodist smuggery, with such little downrightness and definition, that they came to nearly nothing--left the student practically untouched.
Plainly enough, to take such a college, to take it with its native wishy-washiness reinforced by the paralyzing influence of old Buck's reactionary intentions, and transform it into a great university with a clear-cut personality of any kind, above all to transform it into a great Liberal university, was a task of considerable magnitude. If it was to be done swiftly and effectively, what was needed were the talents, the courage, the determined purposefulness of an Andrew D. White or a Daniel Coit Gilman--of a first-class directing mind. But at Duke there has been only Dr. Few--Dr.. Few who is himself the very avatar of the Trinity spirit, Dr. Few who is horribly afraid of the manes of old Buck.
The good man has the best of intentions and no sympathy at all with old Buck's dream of making the university into a thumping Babbitt mill. He yearns--or rather a part of him yearns--to be known as a Liberal, and he'd dearly love to go into history as the man who created at Durham a great, free, militantly civilizing university. But he simply can't make the grade. At every step, old Buck's ghost and his own alter ego rise up to bid him pause. And what complicates matters is that this alter ego is no mere incorporeal thing to be disposed of by an effort of will, but something that takes on concrete form and stares at him with accusing eye from the frame of his dean, Dr. William Hane Wannamaker.
This Dean Wannamaker is a sort of perambulating Methodist conscience. In his youth, he studied widely at the Hun universities, but they to have had no effect on him beyond confirming his native admiration for the goose-step. He likes, after the Trinity fashion, to call himself a Liberal, but it is difficult to know on what ground. He might have sat very well on the faculty of that old Trinity College of the Randolph county backwoods. He is immensely strong in tradition and precedent and rule, and violently opposed to innovation--and if he has a passion, it is for the Methodist Book of Discipline, which he does his best to impose on the student body at Duke.
It is no secret on the campus that Dr. Few is considerably in awe of the dean. There are those, in fact, who say that Wannamaker is really the king there, and that Few only wears the crown. But inevitably this is to exaggerate; likely, the truth is as I say, that Few fears him only as his alter ego, only as a perpetually accusing eye calling up and reinforcing his native and ineradicable Methodism.
Anyhow, there the honest doctor is, torn eternally between his hopes and his fears. His ambition, his will to Liberalism, his yearning to be remembered as a fair and tolerant man, impel him irresistibly forward, drive him to the accumulation of professors of high tone. But having them, he is forever in a flutter about what they may do or say, forever attempting make sure that they won't do it or say it. If he cannot--and anyhow probably would not--resort to direct pressure, he can and does bring indirect pressure to bear.
Maybe he doesn't mean it so. Likely, it is simply a reflex set
up by Wannamaker's Methodist eye. Still, the excellent man is
everlastingly perorating on old Buck's great-hearted largesse and
on the noble traditions of Trinity College and the God-fearing
BUCK DUKE'S UNIVERSITY 109
who built it--which, being translated into plain words, simply means, as the professors can readily understand, that he is earnestly imploring them to remember, for God's sake, that after all it is old Buck's money which pays them, and that after all Duke University is still a Methodist institution
This is not without a certain effect. To be sure it does not cause the Liberals among them to descend to conscious compromise. Nevertheless, many of them are excessively conscientious fellows, already a little uneasy about the morality of taking Caesar's coin for the purpose of doing Caesar down--and that uneasiness Dr. Few's prayer naturally serves to exacerbate. Certainly, they exhibit within the walls of the university itself a hesitancy which is in striking contrast to their often slashing boldness outside.
Maybe this is one of the reasons why the student body yet remains one of the most inert in the country. Among the 2,000 undergraduates there is almost nothing of that concern with social and economic questions, that "great argument about it and about," which has been fevering most American colleges of any importance since the advent of the Blight. The prevailing mores are Philistine and by no means passively so. Not only does the student body as a whole hold Mr. Wallace Wade (Mr. Wade is a high-powered gentleman who used to turnout very high-powered football teams at Alabama till Duke lured him away with $18,000 a year) for its chief hero and look forward to the day when he shall take a Duke team to the Rose Bowl as Ultima Thule; it insists that everybody on the campus shall share the same view--declines pointedly to tolerate dissent. My own researches indicate that David Cornell DeJong, a fellow in English, was only telling the truth when he reported in the university magazine for March, 1932, that to be caught voluntarily reading anything above the level of Liberty, or willingly taking any interest in any intellectual matter, is an offense against the Duke esprit de corps which is not uncommonly punished by outright physical violence.
Yet, when all this is said and done, it is perhaps not too important. What really matters is that the Liberals have got into the place, and come in increasing numbers. What is really significant for trend in the university is the record of their deeds. The tremors of the moment, the hesitancy of some of the Liberals themselves, the dumb Philistinism of the student body--these things, in the last analysis, probably simply represent a transition phase, and perhaps an inevitable one.
Dr. Few and all that his generation stands for will pass. In truth, the doctor himself is already past the age for retirement, and there is a movement on foot to shelve him.Wannamaker, too, is an old man. Once they are gone, it seems very likely that the courageous, enlightened and resourceful administration which is needed at Duke will be forthcoming. Other Liberals will flock in, attracted by the really magnificent facilities for work. In time, all that will be left of the Trinity spirit will be the Bassett tradition. At any rate, there is ground for thinking so.
Already, and despite the Few-Wannamaker regime, a change
begins to be apparent. The professional schools are even now
completely in the hands of able men who pay little attention to
either the administration or the old Trinity spirit: they bow
down before no Methodist fetish and yield old Buck's ghost less
than no regard. The Medical School, in particular, is al-
THE AMERICAN MERCURY 110
ready wholly independent. On the campus they tell the story that Dean Wannamaker's cops (he employs two to check up on the campus drinking and necking) once bagged a medical student who was definitely and lamentably oiled, and that the dean, dispatching a messenger hotfoot to Dr.Wilburt Cornell Davison, dean of the Medical School, to break the dreadful news and suggest that the student be canned, got back as answer an invitation to go off to Hell or elsewhere and mind his own business. Maybe the yarn is a myth, but if so, it nevertheless quite accurately reflects the state of affairs.
In short, old Buck has failed, and not only failed but
woefully hashed up his own ends. If the faculty prima donnas (whom
he thought to hire and use as he would have used a gang of
tobacco-drummers) have not as yet precisely and fully reduced
his genius (that genius which was so marvellously effective so
long as it moved in a world of relatively simple organisms like
himself, in the world of business and politics) to a hissing and
a mocking, they none the less make progress toward that end. In
time, it seems certain, this university founded as a Babbitt mill
will go over, lock, stock, barrel, hoof and horn, to Theory, and
take up place beside its neighbor, that University of North
Carolina which old Buck distrusted, as a militant champion of
civilization and a dangerous critic of the status quo.