Second Honorable Mention, 1916
On one of the closing pages of the issues of the UNITED STATES NAVAL INSTITUTE PROCEEDINGS will be found the caption "Notice," and under it the words, "The U. S. Naval Institute was established in 1873, having for its object the advancement of professional and scientific knowledge in the navy." The sentence is a repetition of the second article of the constitution of the Institute adopted by the founders in 1873. Further on in the constitution is the provision that the papers read before the society and the discussion growing out of them shall be prepared for issue when a sufficient number shall have been accumulated to make a book of a specified size. Accordingly there was published in October, 1874, the first number of the first volume of the UNITED STATES NAVAL INSTITUTE PROCEEDINGS.
In this initial number the leading article, though it was not the first paper read before the society, was written by Captain (now Admiral) S. B. Luce. It bore the title "The Manning of Our Navy and Merchant Marine," and it contained an able exposition of the need of a training school for instructing and disciplining boys who were to become seamen. In the course of his remarks the author quoted the following:
Education, it has been observed, has reference to the whole man, the body, the mind and the heart; its object, and, when rightly conducted, its effect, is to make him a complete creature after his kind. To his frame it gives vigor, activity and beauty; to his heart, virtue. If you would mark the perfect man, you must not look for him in the circus, the university, or the church exclusively, but you must look for one who has mens sana in corpore sano—a healthful mind in a healthful body. To make all men such is the object of education.
The purpose of this essay of mine is to make use of the above quotation as a text for a dissertation on the subject of education; but with this difference,, that in the remarks about to be herein under submitted for consideration, the intention is to make them applicable exclusively not to him in the circus—though some clowns may be referred to; nor in the university—though some wise men may be spoken of; nor in the church—though some clergymen may be mentioned; but to him in the naval profession. And, here again, not to every man in that profession—though some officers may be brought into view; but solely to that comparatively small number of young men at Annapolis who, under the title of midshipmen, constitute the Naval Academy, a governmental institution consecrated to the duty of teaching the youth there gathered .together the underlying principles of the naval profession, and of inspiring them with the belief that they will in time become complete creatures after their kind and bear the mark of the perfect man, of him of a healthful mind in a healthful body. To insure such results so far as is humanly possible, is the particular aim and object of the education a midshipman is given while he is at the Naval Academy.
It is to be hoped no reader will imagine that the education a midshipman may receive while under watch and ward at Annapolis will be so beneficial, so sensible and so full, as to comprise everything he will need to acquire to make him a complete creature. No such assertion is made and no such averment intended. From the very nature of things—the youth's age, inexperience, environment, the course of instruction, the constraints of discipline, such a finality of undergraduate progress is clearly impossible. The fact is that at the Academy a midshipman is but a growing sapling, a young tree fresh from the nursery taking root in a new soil and gradually becoming acclimated in a wonderful garden not at all of the common variety like that to which he has been accustomed, but one wherein the twig will be uncommonly bent so as to insure an exceptional inclination of the tree.
The bending process, the compulsory acquirement of the essentials of the naval profession, may be different as regards the methods employed at Annapolis from those in use at other colleges where the demands of discipline may be less exacting. But in them all, civil and military, the controlling motive is the same, to bring a child up in the way he should go, trusting that when he enters upon manhood he shall be adequately prepared to face his duties courageously and acquit himself honorably. Hence the reason for the interest so many people take in college activities, and the discussions, criticisms and suggestions of the alumni and other persons, of the manner in which the colleges perform the functions assigned to them by society. In like manner and for like reasons officers of the navy ought to take thought of the methods of their alma mater and make bold to express their opinions of the manner in which she administers the trust confided to her.
That no college performs its work to the satisfaction of patrons is a common idea voiced by the complaining query heard on all sides, "What is the matter with our colleges?" The men who submit answers usually restrict the remedies suggested to the cure of the ills of a particular institution. Rarely are the changes recommended for advancing the welfare of one college in harmony with those advised for another; and not infrequently the alterations in the modes and manners prayed for by one set of men of a college are Opposed by another set of men of the same college notwithstanding that both sets have equally at heart the good of their alma mater.
Quite like men of other professions and other colleges, naval officers put the similar question, "What is the matter with the Naval Academy?" And proceed to answer it much after the manner of college growlers of divergent views and various opinions; but with less insistence on the points which agitate the tempers of civilian alumni. For Naval Academy graduates have in mind what other graduates have not, two specific grievances—maybe three—exclusively their own, beside which other baneful effects and needs of reform pale their "uneffectual fire" and fade into comparative insignificance. Indeed some officers honestly believe that the troubles complained of at Annapolis would entirely disappear were these two or three obstacles, as they see them in the path of progress and development, removed. But as to what should be substituted in order to make the road clearer there is no unanimity of sentiment.
What is the matter with Annapolis? One answer, a very general one, but one containing the essence of nearly every complaint lodged against the school, was written by the head of a department and member of the academic board, in 1912:
Notwithstanding the fact that the methods of teaching used here are good, and that the midshipmen probably use more of the four years at the Naval Academy to advantage, on an average, than is used in other schools, criticism of the Academy and its graduates is creeping in—from the fleet and from other sources. A straw vote taken here would show that the majority of the instructors and heads of departments think that in preparing them for their life work we are not giving the midshipmen the best course we could give them.
This is severe but not startling or novel. It had often been said before and has often been repeated since, and probably its telling began with the founding of the school 70 years ago. To trace it so far back, however, is not necessary, since a starting point may be taken in 1879 when the Naval Institute published the prize essays on naval education.
Naval education was the subject of the first essays ever submitted in competition for a prize. It was set by the Institute; and the order of rank of the competitors was determined by a committee of three judges—Dr. Eliot, president of Harvard University, Rear Admiral Daniel Ammen of the navy and Chief Engineer Shock of the navy, none of them Annapolis men or connected with it. The award was: First prize, Lieut. Commander Allan D. Brown; second, Lieut. Commander C. F. Goodrich; and third, Commander A. T. Mahan—all of these officers were graduates of the Academy, and were on duty there at or about that time.
From that day in 1879 to this day in 1915, 36 years, no essay on the subject of naval education has not only not won a prize, but so far as can be gathered from turning over the pages of the 160 numbers of the UNITED STATES NAVAL INSTITUTE PROCEEDINGS issued to date, there is no internal evidence, excepting perhaps a paper on alma mater published in September, 1908, .that an essay on that important subject has ever been submitted in competition. This assertion does not mean that naval education has not been written about at all; for as a matter of fact short articles have appeared now and then, written generally by some officer attached to the Academy; but even so, these attempts at setting forth what may be the matter with Annapolis, together with accompanying suggestions of remedial measures, have not been so noticed or discussed by officers as to produce the impression that the naval service at large takes a sincere and lasting interest in the work Annapolis is doing.
For a moment, however, let a return be made for a hurried glance at what the three noted essayists had, to offer for modifying and changing an organization and a system of long standing which, they argued, were harmful and gradually undermining efficiency and esprit de corps. The measures recommended as desirable for invigorating the service and promoting its welfare were summed up by the winner of the first prize, Lieut. Commander Brown, as follows: "I assume the, broad principle that (with the exception of the medical officer and chaplain) every officer on board ship should be a combatant sea officer, a graduate of the Naval Academy, an efficient addition to the strength of the ship's company, in lieu of the present plan by which many of the ship's complement are unskilled and untrained in the use of arms." This broad principle was endorsed by the competing essayists and by, the members of the Institute in attendance at the hearing. Twenty years later it was partly adopted by amalgamating the line and engineer corps, and warranting machinists. With some of the other measures recommended, fortune has been kind though tardy; for instance, to-day there is a postgraduate school, midshipmen are commissioned as ensigns on graduating, and marine officers or staff officers may be appointed from Academy graduates. But not in 1879, when the propaganda was first published, any more than there had been in preceding years, was there harmony at all points; and these distant notes of discord echo through the corridors of time as vibrant as when first struck.
One of the long heard strains which agitated the minds of some officers and caused unrest, was the method in force of nominating candidates for appointment as midshipmen. Since to nominate a candidate is an inalienable right appertaining to each individual congressman, it would seem to be but a beating of the air to complain of the manner in which he exercises that privilege. Whether a boy reach Annapolis by the road of competition, or selection, or favoritism or nepotism, ought to be of as little concern to the Academy as who are his parents or what is his religion. Such matters fall not properly within the purview of naval officers; hence they should be dismissed from the mind as of no consequence.
Another note of discord which has vexed the ears of navy men ever since the founding of Annapolis, is the fixing by Congress of the limits of the age of the boys who shall be admitted into the Academy. In this matter as in the preceding, interference is an attempt to intrench on the prerogatives of Congress; for that body itself, after duly considering the pros and cons, has set the age limits; and it unquestionably has the authority so to do. Furthermore, it cannot be maintained that Congress has acted unwisely; it has taken thought of the development of education in the country at large—about which it knows more than navy men; and of the demands of the naval profession—about which it keeps itself informed through the Navy Department; and it has moved accordingly. In earliest years candidates for admission to the school were 14 to 16 years of age. Gradually these limits were raised until the year 1904 when they were set at 16-20 years, and they so remain to this day. Further change may come, if so it will be because of reason and not because of haphazard opinion.
The reason for the present law of entrance age has been given by Medical Inspector Ames of the navy, who, after a long tour of duty at Annapolis, wrote:
I think it would be a great mistake (to reduce the age of entrance from 16-20 to 15-17). It is known so far as psychology is concerned, that in the youth of fifteen the mind is not developed, and it follows of course, if you are going to take them at fifteen, unless you can select out of a great many the number required, you are going to fail, because it is apparent that it is preparing and not advancing the mind, as the intellectual centers are not developed until 17 or 18 years of age. This is now recognized in all institutions of learning, and instead of reducing the age, I think it would be better to keep it as it is, I would say 17 to 20…I think it would be a great mistake from the intellectual side, to reduce the age here.
In view of the above professional opinion, it would seem to be advisable, especially so since naval officers are of two or three minds concerning the desirable age of eligibility of candidates, and moreover since the navy is not responsible for fixing the age of admission whereas Congress is, that the disturbing thought that natal limitation is at all related to what is wrong with Annapolis be banished. Also that further agitation of the question be foresworn until throughout the length and breadth of the land the public schools stand on the same educational level, and the intellectual and moral endowments of the pupils are the same always as the same age. Manifestly this can never be; therefore. to continue harping on the subject may be likened to fiddling while Rome is burning.
A third cacophonous strain of Naval Academy education sounded many years ago and reverberating as intensely and loudly to-day as ever, rehearses the disputations concerning the amount of time which should be expended by midshipmen in acquiring their education in the grove of Academe. As far in the past as the year 1851, six years after the opening of the school, the academic board suggested the advisability of adopting a scheme of instruction which would insure a consecutive course of studies of four years on shore before commencing actual sea service. The proposal was accepted; the four years course was set; and it has been held to ever since, despite repeated efforts to have it changed. Prayers and supplications, arguments and entreaties, bursts of anger and wails of woe, have all alike proved inefficacious. The millstone hung 65 years ago about the neck of alma mater still is pendant, the incubus to her progression still remains, the four years are still there, and no prospect of relief is in sight.
No one of any imagination will deny that in a four and a half years' course, or a five years' course, or a six years' course, more book learning can be acquired than in a four years' course. But can it be proved that the additional knowledge to be obtained from a prolonged study of text-books will so benefit the student that, as a consequence, he will be better prepared to take up the manifold duties of active service? No. The prolongation of academical instruction would tend to retard and not advance the subsequent expansion of the faculties of him who will have to familiarize himself, not only with the military side of his profession, about which he will have had some preliminary training, but also with the civil side, that of society, about which he will have had no enlightenment whatever. Therefore his further retention in the circumscribed atmosphere of the Academy for the sole purpose of imparting additional theoretical naval instruction, is a suggestion which under the circumstances cannot be applauded.
From the worldly point of view undergraduate education is merely elementary and theoretical and inconclusive and impractical. "The average college man cannot," in the graphic words of Stanley, the explorer, "understand business, cannot build or make anything, cannot command men; only after long and laborious practice can he be entrusted to do rightly any of these things." Annapolis men, like other college men, may be called upon at any time to do rightly any and all of these things—to trade, to build, to command; and the intent of the Academy education is to prepare midshipmen to commence—but only to commence—this long and laborious practice with energy and determination. Will lengthening the time of preparation beyond the four-year limit assure greater subsequent efficiency than is possessed by the average collegian? Hardly; if the prevailing opinion of the educational world be accepted as a criterion.
Perhaps, however, as strong a reason as any other for ceasing to dwell on the advisability of altering the course at Annapolis from four years to three years or six years or any other than what it is, is that Congress here, too, has fixed the time. It has become second nature with some people to find fault with the transactions of Congress, to believe that it is always playing politics, is heedless and unmindful of important national affairs, and is singularly ignorant and neglectful of naval matters. Whether such views as a whole be justifiable or not, Congress is a responsible body and is accountable to the country for its acts. And although some of its members may be stupid and uninformed and vote carelessly and unwisely, yet on every committee, and notably on the navy committee, sit several men, some of them college bred, capable, intelligent, with a good knowledge of educational matters, who take a more sincere interest in Naval Academy affairs than some persons are disposed to admit; and who endeavor in the light of experience and information to advance the interests of Annapolis for the benefit of the service.
To yield a cheerful and ungrudging obedience to the laws these legislators have prescribed for the government of the Academy, would seem to be a concomitant of a situation not strange or un common, not unsuspected or improvised, but' regular and old and habitual and traditional; well understood and thoroughly comprehended by all hands, and in full accord with the approved custom of other colleges throughout the country. Hence the suggestion is ventured that the practice of graduating midshipmen in four years should not be selected to bear the brunt of the adverse criticism which is creeping in from the fleet, and from other sources, that midshipmen are not given the best course that could be given them.
The remarks relating to the propriety of accepting uncomplainingly the laws of Congress, must not be construed to mean that the faculty of the Academy should sit silent and inactive while objectionable measures were about to be passed. Quite the contrary is intended. Annapolis should enter protest and endeavor to have its own plans adopted, provided they are based on a concensus of naval opinion as to what is wrong and what should be done to right the wrong. And the entire body of alumni should join hands with the protestants in furthering the prayer for plans for improving conditions at the school. But at the present time there are no evidences apparent of solidarity of naval sentiment. Now and then a voice is heard crying distractedly in the wilderness that midshipmen are not given the best course that could be given them; but those who have ears to hear will not hear. Therefore it befits Annapolis to accept cheerfully and determinedly existing conditions; to improve each shining hour of the four years; to make the utmost of the very considerable resources of the school; and to inspire every instructor to greet his great and solemn duty as the preceptor of young men who are to be taught to serve their country, with a cheery, "Ay, Ay, Sir!" The finest expression, wrote Admiral Goodrich, ever invented for the acknowledgment of an order.
Then what is the matter with Annapolis? The answer will be come to by and by.
Seventy years ago the United States Naval School—as the Academy was then called—was established at Annapolis by George Bancroft, Secretary of the Navy, for the following specifically stated purposes: First, to give greater concentration to the services of the excellent professors who had been teaching at various naval stations. And secondly, to guard the morals of the young midshipmen who were exposed while on shore to numerous temptations. In full recognition of these principles of incorporation, Commander Franklin Buchanan, the first superintendent, when he opened the doors of the school on October 10, 1845, on ground where Bancroft Hall now stands as a memorial to the founder, addressed the incoming midshipmen as follows: "By carefully avoiding the first step toward intemperance, shunning the society of the dissolute and idle, and by cherishing the wish to deserve and the hope of receiving the approbation of your country, you can alone render yourselves able to occupy with honor the high standing in the navy to which many of you are destined." Other matters were touched on in the inaugural, but none so emphatically as the adjuration to suppress those tendencies and inclinations to misbehavior supposed to be inherent in our forefathers of 70 years ago, wild youngsters aged from 15 to 27 years, who, upon leaving duties afloat to take up studies ashore, were disposed to be a trifle insubordinate and dissipated. Therefore was the moral side of life called to particular notice rather than the mental and physical, though these were provided for in the curriculum—mathematics, astronomy, the theory of morals, law, "the use of steam, the Spanish and the French languages," and the teaching of fencing and infantry drill.
Commander Buchanan's earnest admonition against wine, women and song went by the board long ago, unheeded because unneeded. For, although in earliest times the young sea dogs may perhaps have been inclined to be a bit wild, yet were they not really vicious or unlike other youngsters of their day. They were amenable to discipline, grew apace in grace and discretion, and in due time occupied with honor "the high standing in the navy." Their successors have not proved to be better men or better officers and certainly not better seamen. Since those days, however, so carefully have the first steps towards intemperance come to be avoided, that now the entire navy drinks not the gin or our ancestors, but the ginger of our prohibitionists, and midshipmen prefer the taste of the springs of knowledge to that of the fire-water for which the ancient mariners had such reprehensible fondness. Nevertheless when recalling the days of the navy that are no more, some tears must rise in the heart and gather to the eyes for the gallant gentlemen of the old school, the rum old commodores of song and story who were never so knocked about by the bullets and the gout as to be unfit for sea and for upholding the honor of the flag.
These officers and gentlemen of other times learned the lesson of the sea on board sailing ships and learned it well. But the advent of steam and its applicability to naval requirements concentrated attention at Annapolis on the urgency of substituting for methods fast becoming obsolete and inefficient, a wisely devised scheme of naval instruction to be worked out by competent instructors on shore under modern conditions. Therefore, with unity of purpose and a keen perception of the exigencies of the navy present and prospective, the instructors at the Academy, civilian and military, formulated .a plan and put it in operation in 1851, only six years after the establishment of the school. How well these pioneers builded is evidenced by the fact that the controlling features of the system adopted 65 years ago are in essentials those to be seen at Annapolis to-day-the four years' consecutive course of study, practice cruises, division of time, a marking scale of four, and other less noteworthy details. Also at about this time the age of entrance of candidates was fixed, and the mode of appointing them.
Immediately following the announcement of the above program, there arose from many briny throats hoarse cries of denunciation, forecasts of failure, and general condemnation of the school. The age of entrance was wrong—boys of 14 should be sent to sea first, to school afterwards. The method of appointing midshipmen was objectionable—it should be by selection, or competition, or some other way. The course of four years' study was absurdly long—it should be for two years or three years; and the subjects taught should be strictly nautical. This censorious attitude of the early critics of the school is of no moment except as an illustration of the mental similarity with other critics who have been expressing their disapproval from that time to this.
It is assumed by the earners that at Annapolis midshipmen are not given the best course that could be given them. But apparently the best course is indeterminable; such a surmise is warranted by the opinions a few officers have printed in recent years in the UNITED STATES NAVAL INSTITUTE PROCEEDINGS. Some of the writers advocate the teaching of more electricity; some, more mechanics; some, more ordnance; and so on, than at present. Too much theory say some, too much practice say others. In no instance is there agreement. Equally conflicting is the advice as to the steps to be taken to make the conjectural course the best—where to subtract from, where to add to, the subjects now being taught, or what to omit and what to take on, in the Utopian curriculum. It is all very disconcerting, and confusing, and perplexing to the conservative mind of the ordinary man. And what way out of the muddle do the controversialists offer? The impracticable one of prolonging the four years' course by one year, or one and a half years, or two years, according to individual fancy. Here again is confusion worse confounded by the arguments of those who would amend the established order by imposing on Annapolis that theory or that practice for which each advocate has a predilection. Such a variety of preachments cannot convince, cannot convert men; and, what is straight to the point, cannot change the statutory limit of time. Therefore, what is demanded of Annapolis is, that she shall give to her students of a fixed age during a fixed course at the Academy the best education possible.
It is of the utmost importance, in endeavoring to determine what is the matter with the Naval Academy, to ascertain the right point of view from which things should be looked at and judged of and then to keep to that point, for the mass of events can only be apprehended in their entirety from one standpoint, if inconsistency is to be guarded against. This point of view is, as stated above, the recognition that appointees, their ages and the four years' course of study are thoroughly well known and firmly fixed elements in the cosmogony of Annapolis. These incontrovertible truths having been permanently grasped, a consideration of the question Naval Academy education may now be undertaken.
An inquiry into the aims of the education of the Academy requires at the outset a consideration of, first, the material with which the school will have to begin; and secondly, what it is that Annapolis wishes to make of this material. Midshipmen are the nominees of members of Congress and may be said to be fair representatives of the several grades of society in the various parts of the country and in that way to embrace a greater range of character and of social antecedents than can be found in the leading colleges. In some instances recruits to the training stations and recruits to the Naval Academy appear to come from the same people—all are the products of a century and a half influence of republican institutions on our race. (The recent law admitting 15 apprentices annually transfers the appearance into the reality.)
Obviously this human material with which the Academy has to begin its work is compounded of divers and sundry youths gathered from the great cities and the wide plains; from the palaces of the rich and the cottages of the poor; from the homes of distinguished parents and the camps of hewers of wood. Some of it is good material, some indifferent, and some bad. But to all the young men who compose it, whence so ever they come, whatsoever their ability and whosoever their sponsors, the arms of alma mater are opened equally wide; and, having enfolded them, she subjects them one and all to the same ordeal, weighs every one of them in the same balance,, and judges each one of them by the same standards. There follows a ruthless winnowing of the unfit from the fit, a casting out of the lame, the blind and the halt, and, as a consequence, the retention of only the strong and able—a homogeneous body, a satisfactory material to be worked into shape, like clay in the hands of the potter. And what is it that Annapolis wishes to make of this refined material? It wishes to fashion from it officers for the navy, men of healthy minds in healthy bodies win), in the many parts they will have to play in life as business men, makers and builders, and commanders, will be inspired to be worthy and true by the esprit de corps, the devotion to duty, and the honor and patriotism worked into their very souls by the education of the Naval Academy.
What is this education that can potentially, when rightly conducted, give to a man's frame vigor, activity and beauty and to his heart virtue? It is defined in the Century dictionary as follows: "The imparting or acquisition of knowledge mental and moral training; cultivation of the mind, feelings and manners. Education in a broad sense, with reference to man, comprehends all that disciplines and enlightens the understanding, corrects the temper, cultivates the taste and forms the manners and habits; in a narrower sense, it is the special course pursued, as by parents and teachers, to secure any one or all of these ends."
Both broadly and narrowly the Naval Academy is committed to the task of education as it is set forth in the words of the Century definition. Therefore, for the furtherance of these ends, men, means and measures are amply provided so that the work may be diligently pursued with the earnest desire to satisfy the intention of Annapolis training and instruction, the great object of which is, said the late Superintendent, Rear Admiral C. R. P. Rodgers, "not so much to make midshipmen or young lieutenants, but to make officers to command the ships of our navy and to make the navy strong and able for the work all navies must do henceforth."
"The three M's are all that we need—morals, mind and muscles. These must be .cultivated if we wish to be immortal." So wrote Henry M. Stanley, of African fame, about young men who aspired to do things—without, of course, having the Academy in mind. Stanley gained his wish: and it is noteworthy that he placed morals first in the order of importance in his triad of needs, declaring specifically that "there was danger in paying attention to mind and muscles only."
The late Admiral Mahan who, like Stanley, sought and won immortality, though in a different field and in a different way, placed the order of needs of those men who aspired to become worthy naval officers, as follows: Moral power, physical ability and intellectual attainments. "Let me try to state clearly," he wrote in his honorable mention essay in 1879, "what qualities you should especially wish in the line officers of the navy. I scarcely think I can err in assigning to the foremost place moral power "; which he describes as "strength to control self and others; promptitude in action; readiness of resource; calmness amid excitement."
A third distinguished man who has won world recognition of his ability, the famous head master of Rugby School, Dr. Thomas Arnold, said: "What we must look for here (Rugby School) is first, religious and moral principles; secondly, gentlemanly conduct; thirdly, intellectual ability." "You should feel," he told his boys, "like officers in the army or navy whose want of moral courage would indeed be thought cowardice." Here not only are morals placed first in the order of essentials of honorable manhood, but they are emphasized as being of the very essence of the character of a naval officer.
The three remarkable men whose words have been quoted, differed from one another in personality, kind, experience and in what they aspired to do, and did do, as widely as was possible. Excepting that each one so cultivated the three M's as to win immortality there were few points of contact among them, scarcely any of sympathy, none of method. Stanley and Mahan were contemporaries, Arnold preceded them, he died when they were born. Stanley from a waif and adventurer became, a daring explorer and discoverer; and won a knighthood. Mahan brought up at West Point and trained at Annapolis, became a captain in the navy and the eminent expounder of sea power, and won honors from native and foreign universities. Arnold, an Oxford graduate and Church of England priest, became head master of Rugby School and won fame from the manner in which he conducted that institution, and as a scholar and educator.
What meaning do these renowned men, so unlike to one another in what they achieved, intend to convey to the mind of the hearer when they use the word moral to express their conviction that it is the indispensable requisite in the shaping of character? Admiral Mahan explained it as innate power over self and others and over events, and correct judgment and behavior. A shorter and more comprehensive definition is, " of or pertaining to rules of right conduct" in which the connoting word is right.
Right as adjective, adverb, noun and verb is given about 30 definitions in the Century dictionary, and a large number of them may be applied to a description of the quality of the rules of conduct which should regulate the behavior of men. For example, right means "in conformity with moral law." Also, "obedience to or harmony with the rules of morality; moral rightness." Also, "to have a moral obligation; be under a moral necessity." And in many other definitions occur such words as truth, justice, reason, duty.
For present purposes the definition selected from out the many, is this one, "Right conduct; a just and good act or course of action; anything which justly may or should be done." And as an illustration of its applicability to the rules of right conduct, the following quotation: "With firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right." Plainly Mr. Lincoln inferred that what was right was moral, and that what was moral was of the essence of Christian ethics, which is really but the science of morals. A science, by the way, taught for 20 years at the Naval Academy and held in such high esteem as to have a department of ethics and English with a full professor at its head.
To see the right is not always a simple thing to do; for circumstances are not absolute, not fixed by unchangeable laws, not controlled by immutable surroundings. Rather is the right subjected to the effects these unstable conditions of time, place and surroundings produce in the mind of him who is under their influences, consciously or unconsciously, and who while therein under is called upon to act firmly in conformity with moral principles. Even the ten commandments so good a Christian gentleman as Dr. Lyman Abbott tells us" are not to statutes which must be carefully studied and literally construed. They are concrete illustrations of general principles in accordance with which one should regulate his conduct and will regulate his conduct provided the right spirit dwells within him." Here again the difficulty of always seeing the right confronts one.
The following hypothetical question has been put:
A is a good boy. B is a bad boy. When A and B arc together B breaks a window notwithstanding A's remonstrance. The teacher finds the broken window and suspects that A knows about it. Should A tell? And should the teacher bring pressure on A to make him tell?
Substitute for window in the above question, the word regulation or rule, but not the word law—that word comes under a different category to be referred to later—and a case of frequent occurrence at Annapolis and at other colleges, indeed in all life, will be presented for argument and discussion. Suppose, however, that as a concrete example, a not dissimilar situation to the broken window, and one that has now and then in times past confronted the authorities at the Academy, be offered for analysis and adjudication.
Once at the dead hour of night a bowling alley ball was rolled along the upper corridor of the Mew Building (I mind me of a time that's gone) and another and another. They make a thunderous noise. Hark! Did ye not hear it? The gong sounds, doors slam, orders are shouted. There is a hurrying and a. scurrying to and fro and a hastening down the stairs. In the lower corridor the battalion is formed and mustered; and the blue line of collarless midshipmen stands motionless at attention. A death-like silence reigns. Then, livid with rage, appears the officer in charge. "Who rolled those balls?" No answer. "I order those men to step forward." No movement. "If they do not do so the battalion will be kept standing all night." No one stirs. "I place the battalion upon its honor to compel the men who rolled .the balls to step to the front." The dazed line wavers; it grows uneasy; there is a little whispering in ranks; some turning of heads; some hesitancy of action. Then, under pressure, the two or three guilty ones announce themselves. The battalion is dismissed. The men go back to bed wondering sleepily what is the good of it all. And the play is played out.
One or two similar happenings may be referred to. For instance, the report by an officer off duty that he had seen some midshipmen drop over the wall and slip away undetected. Another, the dropping of a bucket of water at midnight on Shovel Nose, the sneaking, whispering watchman whose delight was to catch and report midshipmen. In these instances as in the first one cited, the battalion was turned out, formed and put upon its honor. Fiat justicia ruat coelum.
Shovel Nose's proper name was Morgan. The sobriquet was derived from his nose having no septum. Because of this he could not speak above a whisper. He was a short, stout, ugly, red-faced, red-bearded and red-headed man. He would and did report every infraction of the regulations he saw, and his blue eyes were very keen. His good quality was frankness; he openly said he would report and no cajolery could deter him. Watchmen were supposed to watch buildings; instead they watched midshipmen. Midshipmen thought this "pretty low down." Some of them, now old men, remain of that opinion. To be under such surveillance was degrading. It ought never to have been tolerated. Its moral effect was distinctly bad.
To resume. Did the action of the officers in charge in the above cases meet in a satisfactory and conclusive manner, the challenge to discipline implied by the unusual and improper behavior of the midshipmen who .rolled the balls, frenched, dropped the bucket, or who committed other similar high crimes and misdemeanors? The answer to the A and B problem will suffice. It is this: "There is, of course, no answer. It would depend on A's, on B's, on the teacher's personality, on innumerable circumstances of time and place and other persons, on antecedents and on probable consequences. How can you have a fixed answer to meet all contingencies? Men are not machines. My correspondent," wrote H. Fielding Hall, the propounder of the question, "supposed there was an answer that was always true; he was in search of the absolute."
No reflection on the disciplinary methods at present in force at Annapolis is intended in what has just been told. Neither is consideration now invited of the nature and unseemliness of the pranks of midshipmen; nor yet of the midshipmen themselves, their cussedness and wickedness. Instead the intention is to allude to the officer in charge, past, present and to come, his moral qualities, his power to control self and others and events, as these tend to affect the ethics of the undergraduate world of the Naval Academy.
Your essayist is of an age to have children old enough to be midshipmen and he believes he still has a mind sufficiently acute and active to discern, measurably perhaps, the inferences to be drawn from incidents of the past and of the present. He, therefore, ventures the suggestion that the above-mentioned course of procedure of the officers in charge for maintaining discipline, was unwise and inept; and perhaps, when one considers the plight of the helpless battalion, not right. Is he wholly mistaken in thinking that the officers abused their privilege and power, and that their management was not in strictest conformity with ideal moral concepts? This question bears no relation to the fair and square detection of misdemeanors whatever may be their nature; it refers to specific cases only and their specific treatment.
The thought just expressed that sometimes men in power fail to recognize their obligations to subordinates, first came into mind in midshipman days. Then, as now, was denied the right of an officer or any other person for that matter, to place a man without his free, uncoerced assent thereto, upon his honor. That a midshipman is a gentleman, a man of truth, having scrupulous regard to rectitude, must be assumed as an indisputable fact. Only after irrefragable evidence of dishonest or dishonorable conduct can this assumption be cast aside. Till then his honesty must not be questioned and his honor, his own most sacred possession, must never be impugned.
What is this sacred thing, this honor? According to Wordsworth, it is:
The finest sense
Of justice which the human mind can frame,
Intent each lurking frailty to disclaim,
And guard the way of life from all offense
Suffered or done.
There is honor among thieves, in essence the same as among gentlemen, though it may seem to be. perverted. Indeed, honor binds every man to live up to the spirit of its code whether he be a thief or an officer or even a midshipman. It is possible, however, that a youth's imaginary and untested standard of ideal, honorable conduct may be lowered and not raised by treating him, not as if he were a human being with a conscience and an inbred sense of what is high minded, sensitive to insult and regardful of contumely; but as if he were a machine incapable of thought and feeling, and ability to see the right—with no virtue at all in his heart.
Such a view point of midshipmen is to be deprecated. It not only is pitiless, unsympathetic, unmoral, a denial of just rights, but it is dangerous and might lead an officer into an error of judgment that would eventuate in blemishing an inherently refined character which he is morally bound to guard and to develop into a perfect man with virtue in his heart, and not as might happen, into a young Ishmael; an exaggerated way, no doubt, of seeking to account for the sentiments of a young ensign who some years ago wrote "to a very great many, the great reason for the unpleasant remembrances they have of the Academy is the feeling of resentment to injustice, and until the cause is removed the feeling is bound to remain." The cause in all cases is the antagonism, whether real or imaginary makes no difference, existing between officer and midshipman. Why?
This is not an agreeable subject to inquire into deeply in search of an answer; for if it be done with persistence, it may expose to the light those motives of the human heart which are seldom permitted to be seen and which even to the man himself are not only obscure, but generally so unknown as to be unbelievable and therefore to call forth an indignant denial. None the less the probable deduction to be drawn by a careful searcher of psychological data will be that subconsciously officers sometimes oppress midshipmen because midshipmen being stupid, unsophisticated, troublesome young creatures, addicted to vexatious ways that are dark and tricks that are vain, it is the easiest thing in the world to do. It always has been so in all navies. From time immemorial midshipmen have been "cuffed and cussed" and have had to bear the brunt of the displeasure of superior officers whether merited or not. That midshipmen of to-day are older than of yore, wiser, more independent, steadier, better men in nearly every respect than their prototypes, has not materially altered their status as insignificant members of the body naval to be harried at the pleasure of dyspeptic and perchance despotic seniors. Such is their lot, a tradition inherited from the ages, a custom more honored in the observance than in the breach. It satisfies the innate spirit of mortal to be proud and to exercise unshackled that joy of authority which is symptomatic Of megalomania. Fathers of families are not exempt from it, especially at breakfast time. But in these instances there is what there is not at Annapolis, affection between father and son, which makes all the difference in the world.
"How do you like midshipmen?" was once asked an officer on duty at the Academy. "I'd like to eat one every morning for breakfast," replied as honest, good natured and thoroughly capable an officer and gentleman as ever lived. One of sympathy, too, and affection. Furthermore, he at heart really liked midshipmen—as young men, not as a breakfast cereal—but he bullied them, spotted them, vented his ill-humor upon them, all because it could be done so easily. Every officer did it; it was in the air, the costumbre del pals. To explain that the precedent was bad, the atmosphere unwholesome, the custom harmful; that his conduct showed lack of moral force and might lead youngsters into thinking that it was the duty of oldsters to be relentless, hard, pitiless, would have greatly surprised, shocked and pained him. Not, however, because the exposition showed the conditions supposedly existing; for these he maintained were non-existent, creations of a distorted imagination, and not worth contradicting; but because such a point of view betrayed a ridiculous conception of the underlying motives of officers at Annapolis whose only incentives were their moral obligations to educate midshipmen to be perfect men of their kind; a duty which they discharged with faithfulness and tenacity of purpose.
The propriety of either supposition, like or dislike of midshipmen, need not be stressed, since each man will decide the question in accordance with his recollections of the days of labor and nights devoid of ease he passed at the Academy under the rules of officers, some of whom once detested, he has since found to be delightful gentlemen, and some of whom he has since found still retain their capacity to make life somewhat burdensome. That the young victim of circumstances at Annapolis may, when removed therefrom, forget the disagreeable episodes of his four years and recall only the good things that came out of Nazareth, is devoutly to be wished. Furthermore, it is well for the service that this forgetfulness should go hand in hand with the passing of time and the absorption of mind in moving events; otherwise the discontent engendered by remembered wrongs, real or fancied, might cripple the efficiency of the fleet. However, oblivion does not invariably signify that the effects of academic treatment have left no scars to mark the not perfect man; else how account for the fault-finding, unhappy officer, him of shattered ideals, of lost ambition, of hopes laid waste?
A story which can be vouched for as substantially true, runs somewhat as follows: Long ago a midshipman appealed in person to the Secretary of the Navy to have his examination papers in shipbuilding re-marked, on the ground that below 2.5 had been given on purpose to bilge him. The Secretary at first refused to entertain the suggestion, stating that prejudice could not sway the judgment of honorable officers, men incapable of malicious persecution as charged. "Am I to take your word against their word?" the Secretary asked, "Yes, sir, you are," again and again insisted the boy—remember he was fighting for his life—and he begged and pleaded that other officers, he cared not who they might be, should mark his papers, and he would abide uncomplainingly by their decision. The papers were sent to Washington, two former instructors in shipbuilding marked them, and the youngster was graduated.
The above, unadorned tale points a moral in whichever of several lights it lie looked at. First, if the department had refused to recognize the rights of the petitioner, he would undoubtedly have been bilged—in fact he had been—and in all probability no one would have been a jot the wiser except the original markers of the paper, who perhaps might have chortled in their glee at having attained their desires; and the young man would have gone home, recounted his experience and not been believed. There would have been no disturbance of the composure of the Academy. But, on the other hand, the midshipmen may all along have been cognizant of the situation—the wish of Annapolis to get rid of the boy; for young men are often aware of what their superiors contemplate, and may have entered a silent protest in condemnation of a system which permitted such a travesty of justice to pass unnoticed. Thus the shipbuilding department would have been brought to the bar of undergraduate judgment for censure; also the academic board for not restraining the shipbuilding department; and finally the Navy Department for not overruling the academic board. And hence the faith of the midshipmen in the rectitude of the government, a belief that ought to be bred in their bones, might have been rudely shaken.
Again, the Navy Department upon restoring the young man to good standing, might have detached the recalcitrant officers, they surely were not deserving of considerate treatment. But such procedure might have had the effect of exposing all superiors at Annapolis to the derision or the contempt of the midshipmen, since young men cannot wisely discriminate between what is fair and what is unfair or what is accidental and what is intentional, and it might have stimulated exalted ideas of undergraduate power, unwarranted by the facts, which might have encouraged the midshipmen to fancy that in the event of trouble befalling them, the Navy Department would not only stand by the sufferers, but would espouse their side rather than that of the officers, a pernicious and dangerous state of mind.
Again, the Secretary might have returned the papers to the Academy with instructions to the officers to raise the boy's mark; all this without giving the matter any unnecessary publicity, though both officers and midshipmen could not help but know it. What would have been the moral effect on the officers? On the midshipmen?
Again, the shipbuilding department, maintaining stoutly it had done its duty impartially and properly, might have refused to raise the mark to 2.5, to recede at all from its first position—it undoubtedly had the moral right to take this stand, what then? In any and every solution that may be offered, there is one fixed factor to be borne in mind, the moral one. That is to say, what would have been a better course to pursue to give to the hearts of midshipmen more virtue and to their minds more health than the course which was followed by the Secretary of the Navy?
There swims into ken in a further glance at the above case, the broad, ethical question of the right of interference by the Navy Department in strictly Naval Academy affairs. Of course no one will deny that literally speaking Washington holds the right, meaning the authority of law to impose its mandates on Annapolis, but does not interposition as a rule affect injuriously the morale of the institution as a whole—its officers and its midshipmen, its character and its education? Even in the specific case just cited the intrusion of the Secretary of the Navy for the express purpose of nullifying academic action at the mere dictum of a bilged midshipmen—for the boy's word was all the evidence the Department had on which to base its interference—would seem to have been prima facie altogether unseemly. That a miscarriage of justice would have followed a refusal to revise the decision of Annapolis is plain enough. But the predicament was an exceptional one, it could not be foreseen or guarded against by either Annapolis or Washington, none other like it has ever been heard of and is not likely to be. Hence the opinion is ventured that by and large the Naval Academy could do better work in a more contented spirit were officers confident that their single-mindedness in furthering the good of the service would not be mistrusted, than is probable when good faith and honorable intention are called in question under misapprehension of the true state of affairs.
The resulting gain to Naval Academy education which would follow the adoption by the Navy Department of a policy of hands off, would greatly enhance the self-respect of the institution and bring about an atmosphere of serenity and completeness: Unfortunately, however, an undercurrent of opposition, not dissimilar to that running between midshipmen and officers, runs between Washington and Annapolis, its source derivable from the inability of the one to appreciate at its worth the point of view of the other. The one sees with the civilian eye, the other with the military eye, hence the same thing may appear different to the two eyes. The responsibility, however, of the Secretary of the Navy is much heavier than that of the Superintendent of the Academy and the faculty; for the Secretary controls the Superintendent and through him the academic establishment. Presumably this overlordship is never wantonly exercised to obstruct academic advancement, but is brought into play only when a doubt arises that Annapolis action may not prove to be conclusive. In order to remove any such uncertainty from the Secretary's mind, officers of the Academy have on occasion gone to Washington and urged somewhat too vehemently, may be, the advisability, even the necessity, of compliance with Academy decrees. Such energy is all very well in a way and creditable, but may be pushed to such an extreme as to provoke opposition and suggest interested motives—personal, perhaps, rather than professional.
Once in June week some first classmen were caught drinking whiskey and, as a consequence, were sentenced to dismissal. Fearing the Secretary of the Navy might commute the sentence, some of the higher officers of the Academy hastened to Washington to represent the heinousness of the crime and the baneful impression a condonement of the offence would produce, not only on the minds of midshipmen, but on the officers and the whole system of academic discipline. But the Secretary demurred and was supported by the avowal of many friends of the guilty that they themselves had unthinkingly in celebration of the strife of four years at college being o'er, the battle won, been "a little in drink," but that absolutely no consequences could be deduced therefrom. So in lieu of expulsion the topers were sent on the practice cruise, and graduated afterwards.
The gist of this incident and also of others like it, more or less familiar to all officers, is that the excessive zeal of the Annapolis officers to secure the approval of their decisions by the Secretary aroused in him, a civilian, and in other non-military men as well, the suspicion that midshipmen were dealt with so harshly and drastically as to retard rather than advance the moral purposes to be served by disciplinary measures, an opinion in which doubtless the general public shares. "The quality of mercy is not strained."
On the other hand the unrest that might follow a frequent and promiscuous exercise of the quality of Mercy should constrain the Secretary to be chary of wielding his power; and always the benefit of the doubt should go to the Academy. It may be affirmed that officers, striving earnestly to elevate the tone of Annapolis, feel keenly a disparagement of their efforts. Enthusiasm is dashed, duty becomes a bore, and an inclination to be harsh and cross is stirred; peace of mind is upset, resentment creeps in, the moral tone is affected. The even tenor of the little community, shut in from the rude world by high walls, where peace and happiness are so necessary for successful administration, is much disturbed. Finally, whatever inauspicious direction the action of Washington may cause the mind and temper of Annapolis to take, the disaffection will spread and react upon the midshipmen, since they in the last analysis are the contributary cause. Thus everywhere will come inquietude and vexation of spirit. Ill-humor breeds discontent and this in turn irritation. And nothing in this world is easier, as said before, than to take it out on midshipmen. "Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em."
Then what do? Strive with might and main to find the way out, and even though it be the hardest, be satisfied. The way suggested is this: Take into kindly consideration the offender and the time, place and circumstances of the offence, and endeavor dispassionately to make the punishment fit the criminal and the crime, bearing in mind the fact, that midshipmen are not machines, that the absolute is unattainable in human affairs, that there are at least two sides to every question, and that the Naval Academy is more than an aggregation of officers and young men. If the Secretary of the Navy, because of the nature of the offence committed and the penalty imposed, be the court of last resort, send him the brief and accept complacently and with good- humor the decision, perhaps even be glad that an order for lenity accompany it. What say the men who went on the practice cruise as a punishment for their jollity?
Here enters into account a notable point. Suppose the Secretary receive a note from the President asking that if possible the wishes of Senator X, to have the sentence of dismissal of his protégé revoked, be complied with? There is nothing improbable in this; the commander-in-chief has been appealed to; he answers as he thinks proper. Neither Secretary nor Academy has the right to complain or to criticize, although both may know that some one has blundered.
The effect produced on the character of midshipmen as young men, that is, on their moral ideals and on their sensitiveness rather than on their mentality, by the overriding by Washington of Annapolis needs careful consideration. To appreciate what it may be one must endeavor to turn time backward in its flight and to become once again a midshipman in thought, word and deed. How difficult is this reversion from the mental habit of meeting the adult responsibilities of society to the far distant ideas and ideals of youth unaware of these obligations, can be attested by fathers of sons and more impressively by teachers of young men in school and college where the spirit of youth sets the pace and largely controls the morals of the brotherhood. The situation to be envisaged is this:
School and college are not mere tiny subdivisions of society. They have no relation to the natural universe. They are separate worlds, as artificially administered as any laboratory. Outside the barriers of youth we are accustomed to base the laws we make on public opinion; within them the community is compelled to accept an alien code, but its opinion remains its own and the two are in sharp contrast. Nor does public opinion within school or college bear any relation to opinion in the world at large.
Some of the articles of the alien code the undergraduate body of Annapolis is compelled to accept were brought to public attention outside the barriers by the investigating boards that last summer inquired into the iniquity of midshipmen. These searchers after truth laid bare what has long been known to men interested in college morals, namely: that the opinion of midshipmen, as of other collegians, of what is right, of what is permissible and of what is wrong in their own tiny subdivision of society, is at variance with the opinion of the world at large in respect of approving moral concepts which, society in general maintains, lack substance for their justification. Very true no doubt. But the disagreement between those outside the barriers and those within ought not to cause astonishment among the outsiders, and lead to a hasty condemnation of the Naval Academy, its pupils, its instructors, and its endeavors to shape the perfect man. And it ought not to excite people to throw up their hands, put ashes on their heads and wail all is lost even honor. No more is this true of the Naval Academy than of Yale or Harvard or any other college. All the officers of the American Navy have grown into manhood with healthy minds and healthy bodies, under a similar code of ethics, artificially administered and in sharp contrast with the laws of society based on public opinion.
When officers were midshipmen physical ability was reckoned higher than mental ability, the strong body than the strong mind. In athletics every trick of the trade fair and unfair was resorted to with approval. Great enthusiasm was demanded for all sports whether as participant or spectator and whether enjoyable or not. Some subjects of study had to be liked, others disliked; some instructors encouraged, some snubbed--midshipmen know how to do this; some practical exercises had to be entered into with spirit, others with listlessness; and so on. All persons and all things were judged by the critical standards set up by the midshipmen themselves. Where to draw the line between what a midshipman might do and what he might not do in the community of midshipmen was, and of course still is, understood only by themselves. It is not only not known to the layman beyond the pale, but is inexplicable. A midshipman may examine surreptitiously an instructor's marking book. He may gouge if he be a low-stand man, but not if he stand high—at times the code has permitted gouging by all hands, at other times it has prohibited all gouging. He may steal an examination paper without the express sanction of the code, and to make use of the information so obtained without compunction is legitimate, but to report the fraud and the thief is wrong. And hazing has always been practiced.
With some of these undergraduate customs no full-grown man can sympathize. The world over they are condemned as bad, dishonorable, immoral; not to be condoned on any ground, not to be excused by any sophistry. Neither youth, nor inexperience, nor ignorance can serve their turn. That they may have been acquiesced in in the midshipmen days of officers who now fiercely attack them is regrettable, but does not in the least militate against their discontinuance. Indeed, the excuses that once seemed to justify such wayward faults and passions of youth, are distressing to remember. Root and branch they should be cut down and cast into the fire. Delenda est Carthago.
Suppose a midshipman be caught red-handed at some devil's work and be sentenced to expulsion: Will the execution of the sentence without hesitation or delay—either of which might tend to obscure the issue and its obloquy—deter others, if time and opportunity offer, from repeating the offence? May be it will, since the influence of a vicious man over his fellows is often very harmful, and his removal and the dread of the consequences of continuing the practices, might produce a change of heart in the brotherhood. On the other hand, may be it will not, since the guilty one may be held by his classmates as a man of no account and his detection might be ascribed to stupidity of which a clever man would not have been guilty; hence the moral effect of his removal would be nil. In either case, however, the final impression made on the moral attitude of the midshipmen as regards the discreditable act of one of their number, will depend on their own point of view and not on that of the officers; and their ideas and opinions will be colored by the popularity the offender enjoyed and by their apprehension of the propriety of the efforts of the officers to secure his dismissal, and very little by the inference to be drawn from the disgrace rightly pertaining to a forced and ignominious withdrawal from the Academy.
A dean of Harvard College once expressed himself somewhat to the following effect: 'That one of the first lessons in college life is an axiom—crime is crime, and a thief is a thief, even in an institution of learning. The college thief, has, it is true, a different motive from his less favored brother; but is the motive better?" The midshipman who gouges at examination, or uses stolen papers, or goes on sick list to shirk, "may be clever and funny to read about, but his cleverness and funniness are not many degrees removed from those of the 'forger and imposter who may also be amusing in fiction." The discouraging thing is that a midshipman should do it at all. That he did what everybody does and has been doing at the Academy in conformity with the code for years and years, bows down with shame the heads of the alumni who in old age can see the danger of fooling with the standard of truth.
To cause an immature mind to move in a desired direction when it is confident of its own rectitude and its ability to regulate affairs better than an outsider can, is as difficult a task as can fall to the lot of an instructor of youth; and is susceptible of full accomplishment only by the exercise of great tact, circumspection and patience, in such manner as will lead the unsophisticated young man into the conceit that the wished-for change of heart shall be his own doing, the result of his own thinking and of his own ideas of what constitutes moral conduct, uninfluenced in any degree by the quiet coaching of his mentor and the appeal to his better nature, and by the imperceptible pressure of public opinion.
The practice of hazing may be offered as an illustration of this condition of set purpose and of resistance to extraneous influences of the undergraduate character—of the difficulty of giving to his heart virtue. Hazing is regarded by midshipmen as a legitimate and worthy means of initiating fourth classmen into the mysteries of a society in which every new member must be forcibly restrained from displaying any tendency towards being independent, in manner and movement, of the control of the older members, and must admit himself to be "the meanest worm that crawls the earth." Be this as it may, the peculiar and unusual features to be noticed in regard to hazing are: First, that a midshipman to matriculate at Annapolis must take the solemn oath of allegiance—in essence to support and defend the laws of the United States. And secondly, that one of these laws specifically prohibits hazing and provides the punishment for infringement—dismissal, and in severe cases, dismissal and imprisonment for one year.
Under, these positive inhibitions it seems extraordinary that violating the laws of the land which bear on the practice of hazing, should have become such a fixed habit as to be unbreakable by any of the measures so far resorted to. A quick discovery of the guilty ones and immediate sentence and dismissal have sometimes—not always—stopped for the time the third class from continuing to haze the fourth class. But the immune fourth classmen have, upon becoming third classmen, joyfully embraced the custom in defiance of possible consequences. Indeed, all midshipmen, and perhaps a few officers, believe not only that hazing does no actual harm to person or institution, but that it really is beneficial in that it quickly brings a plebe to his proper bearings as no other way can.
This view, however, is both absurd and irrelevant and is contrary to fact and to law. Contrary to fact in that hazing having been abolished in many colleges, a distinctly better state of morals and a happier undergraduate life have resulted. Contrary to law in that it breaks the letter and the spirit of the statutes of the nation midshipmen are bound to safeguard.
Since severe punitive measures have failed of effect, other methods less drastic and more in the nature of an appeal to reason and good nature might be tried, the essence of the course to be the dissipation of the idea that hazing is manly, officer-like, conducive to esprit de corps, and that on the contrary it is unlawful, ungentlemanly, cowardly. By kindly hints, soft words gently spoken, and the power of suggestion, officers of the Academy may be able temporarily to mitigate the evil, as has just happened by the apparently voluntary determination of the upper classmen to abolish the practice. But to eradicate it, the navy, the whole navy, must take the matter to heart and bring the full force of its influence to bear. Public opinion has already suppressed hazing in the better colleges, the authorities can seldom do so. What public opinion can do for the colleges, naval opinion can do for Annapolis; and it is the bounden duty of all officers, an obligation second to none in their profession; to see to it that the moral standard of the Academy is at least on the same level as that of the better colleges. It is only by the pressure of the universal sentiment of the service that midshipmen can be made to feel and know that the good name of Annapolis is committed to them, and not to their officers, and especially to the upper classmen, "and is in a manner their property. They are responsible for the character which is given to it by themselves."
There needs no ghost come from the grave to affirm the fact that the moral qualities of midshipmen at the Academy derive their value largely from the noblesse oblige ideas which are evolved from the consciences of the upper classmen. If these arbiters forbid hazing, or gouging, or theft or any other wrong practice, not only will the third class give o'er the play, but all the other classes as well. First, however, there must be assurance that the property, the good name of the Academy these upper classmen are to guard, shall be held as a sacred trust, inviolate; and this dependence must derive certitude from the ascendency of noble obligations which must permeate the Academy through the influence exerted by these young men, and which must be kept alive by the subtle persuasion of instructors who realize that they have the greatest of all fields in which to work and the most curious subject for thought and inquiry—human nature.
Human nature at Annapolis is quite like human nature elsewhere. A midshipman like other American youth, is impatient of strict discipline and is always more easily and successfully led than driven; which is in his favor and in that of the wise teacher, for the latter is well aware that it is far more profitable to lead than it is to push and press forward the unwilling. A midshipman is critical of his instructors. He judges them as he judges his own comrades, and he accords his respect and his attention or withholds them in accordance with the outcome of his comparisons. He is perfectly willing to do anything for the man who takes the trouble to study him and to treat him as a human being; he is ready to follow, but he will not easily be constrained. He will rigidly enforce discipline if the enforcement be left to him; he will probably kick over the traces if the man in authority holds the reins too tight…He is a youth, not an old head on young shoulders, but a real youth with all the charm of his age and with all the essential traits of it…He believes in himself, in his country, yet he is ready to take advice.
The above description of the American collegian—applied specifically here to the American midshipman—is paraphrased from the remarks of a foreigner. It presents a kindly and true appreciation of the characteristics of American naval officers when they were midshipmen and youth had its full, fair swing. Its correctness must be borne in mind when endeavoring to estimate fairly the youngsters' point of view as it differs from that of the oldsters.
Although, as has been said in preceding pages, the occasional intervention of the Navy Department in Academy affairs may not have been followed by harmful consequences, still it may come to pass that persistent intermeddling by Washington with the quiet, earnest endeavor of Annapolis to encourage the worship of lofty ideals and to elevate, purify and direct the character of midshipmen, to instill virtue in their hearts, may have a deleterious effect. The subject is again called to attention because of recent happenings at Annapolis and is further expanded, more particularly with regard to the personality of the midshipmen. Reform of objectionable tendencies in moral ideas may be delayed, even frustrated, if Washington interpose objections to the expulsion of a midshipman whose conduct has been wicked, perhaps criminal, since such leniency can have no other issue than to embolden other men to attempt similar deeds, relying for exculpation, not on the Academy powers, whose rules have been impudently set at naught under the impression that officers have mistaken ideas of what is right, but on the clemency of the Navy Department.
By pardoning and absolving wrong-doers, the distinction between right and wrong will become obscured in the untutored minds and consciences of youth who labor under the delusion that they are competent to govern themselves and correctly solve moral problems; their point of view becomes distorted. Therefore, in seeking a guide for their way, they will quite naturally follow the line of least resistance which will, without their intending it or becoming aware of it, lead to trouble, perhaps to disaster. For example, there appeared last summer the information that a few midshipmen with burglar's kits were in the habit of robbing instructors' desks of copies of examination papers and distributing the questions to the students. Thus was the regiment forewarned and forearmed. Not a member revealed the theft, though nearly every member in his conscience must have suspected it and some members must have known the thieves; and scarcely a member refused to become a receiver of stolen goods, though their origin must have been known or suspected by everyone.
For how long a time the nefarious practices, very bluntly stated above, may have been carried on is immaterial to the larger question now to be considered of the effect produced on the character and the moral qualities of Naval Academy education—its means, its men and its measures—by the pressure of alien hands. What is very much to the point is the knowledge that in the past some wrong acts have been condoned, some punishments mitigated, some expelled midshipmen restored to good standing, by means of influences extraneous to the Academy and in opposition to its wishes, its rules and regulations, and its laws; and that the resultant of these outside forces has been so extraordinary and so far reaching as to encourage a member of the United States House of Representatives to say (so the newspapers reported) in defence or in excuse of the conduct of a midshipman charged with committing unlawful acts, that "The Naval Academy is rotten from top to bottom."
Such words, if they ever were uttered, smack of hysteria, an old definition of which was, "A nervous disease characterized by unrestrained desire to attract attention and sympathy." If the congressman's unrestrained desire was to attract attention to himself and his client, to the midshipmen and the Academy, the officers, the system and the administration, he attained it. For the remark was widely quoted in the newspapers, and Annapolis affairs were brought prominently to the attention of the public. But that an equal amount of sympathy for his client as the victim of corrupt practices was also attracted by his ipse disit of rottenness at Annapolis, was not at all obvious.
Were it in any sense true that the Naval Academy is rotten from top to bottom then the question of what's the matter with Annapolis would be definitely answered. But it is not true, it cannot be true. Some things at' the school might perhaps have been better done than they were done, some officers there may have been temperamentally unsuited for academic duty, some carelessness of administration may have crept in, some mistakes of discipline and organization may have been made—the man who never made mistakes never made anything—and there may have been some errors of judgment, some blunders, some failure to grasp with full intelligence the significance of signs and portents. But that these shortcomings incident to human kind singly or in mass, had the effect of making the Naval Academy rotten from top to bottom—putrid, corrupt, decayed, foul, is as irnpossible of belief as that the moon is made of green cheese, and equally absurd. The whole history of the Academy, its past, its present, even in its temporary eclipse, proclaim the injustice and the unkindness of the cut.
The consequences of the terrible swearing of the army in Flanders were not glaringly obvious, no battles were won, no enemy routed, the oaths were merely mouthings. So may it be with the wholesale condemnation of the system of Naval Academy education, in operation to-day as in substance it has been for the past 70 years, but which now, however, for some reason not clear, ought to be made, so it has been asserted, to give way to some other order not explained and perhaps not explainable. What is this system, old and established, which the destructive criticism of iconoclasts would overthrow? It is a plan of education, mental, moral and physical, for cultivating the healthy mind in the healthy body under military rules and regulations, with a view to indoctrinating midshipmen in the traditions of the American Navy, to insuring obedience and submission to higher authorities, to inspiring patriotism and love of country, and while doing so to impart a rudimentary knowledge, theoretical and practical, of naval science. The scheme is worked in the open before the eyes of him who cares to look. There is nothing mysterious or sinister about it. And only in respect of the manner in which the authorities operate the system by exerting a control which is practically absolute over the movements of the students, does it differ materially from the systems in practice in every vocational school. The Naval Academy is a college of discipline, whereas the other, the civil school, is a school of freedom. The fundamental difference between them has been thus explained: "In the college of discipline, the tendency is to emphasize the duty to society, as represented by the organization, at the expense of the individual; in the college of freedom the tendency is to emphasize the rights of the individual at the expense of the social organization."
No attempt will be made to controvert the statement that in the college of discipline the tendency is to emphasize the duty to society as represented by the organization. It is a patent fact. Men of the navy believe in the navy, hope for it, pray for it, and feel that above all other duties their duty to it and not to themselves or to society, is paramount. Such ideas may not be profound, since they take not into consideration, except incidentally, the standards of society as well as those of the organization—together a multiplicity too large for midshipmen or even older men to grasp understandingly. Besides, there are rooted in a military organization, principles of discipline and moral doctrines altogether at variance with those of the man in the street and society in general in America, and which develop in the individual who adheres to them an aristocratic disposition and not a democratic one, as would exclusive devotion to the tenets of the social order. It may be added that likewise, even in normal times, there are nations in which society is so enamored of the doctrine of power that a military caste is permitted to exercise a controlling influence in social activities and thought, just as there are other states Where such ascendency is not known at all. These contrary ideas in shaping the social fabric are perfectly expressed on the one hand in Germany where. Verboten stares one in the face at every turn and the air is charged with militarism—respect for and obedience to authority vested in a military uniform. And on the other hand in France where the sign that faces one on church front, legislative hall and even military barracks, is Liberte,Egalitt, Fraternite, denoting fully the Frenchman's conception of the life of freedom, although in France as in Germany there is, even in times of peace, universal conscription—every man must be a soldier.
Indeed, it may be said that every military organization, whether it be supported and upheld as a component of the social organization, or be restricted to its own exclusive, narrow limits by the people, is proud, ambitious, aristocratic, and in thought, habit and cult devotedly egotistical. Ii believes that its springs of action, the spirit and sentiment of its organization, its esprit de corps, are more estimable and worthy and noble, than similar qualities which actuate society at large. And it is obsessed by the idea that when war comes—as it has come in many lands—the people will gladly turn over the safekeeping of the social organization to the care and protection of the military organization, and that the aristocracy of the sword will be acclaimed.
Here in the United States, as also in England, there is under normal conditions of peace neither conscription nor military enthusiasm. In England, however, the profession of arms is held in higher esteem than here because many officers are by inheritance aristocrats. But American society, democratic and without the aristocratic traditions of England, pays scant courtesy to the military profession, holding it in less esteem perhaps than other professions like those of the circus, the university or the church. This need cause no wonderment, for the essence of a military force is undemocratic, its whole basis is a hierarchy with the power centering in one head. Its only democratic feature, all the world over, is that its ranks are open to men of every class and caste—if such terminology be permissible in speaking of American society. But this democratic origin of an army and navy 'sinks into oblivion with the swearing of fealty to the colors. Then and thereafter one man ceases to be the equal of another or as good as another Barriers are raised between the rank and file, and marked distinctions separate officers of one grade from those of another.
This subjection of one man to another in a military organization implies submission to the will of the man higher up, belief in his greater sagacity, confession of his right to command and to be obeyed. He is a superior and must be thought so, deference must be paid him, and homage, and respect, and loyalty. Here then is an aristocracy as definite and well marked as if it were hereditary. It is an order p6ssessed of prescriptive rank and rights in its own organization. It has its own codes of honor and morals. And it has its own doctrine, our country right or wrong, which it reveres as the faith to uplift it through life unto death with a beatific satisfaction known only to martyrs. Melee et decorum est pro patria mori.
Into this veritable corps d'elite midshipmen are initiated upon entering Annapolis. Never before have they seen anything so foreign to their preconceived notion of democratic institutions. They are strangers in a strange land and are reluctant, not unnaturally, to surrender the privileges of a birthright of equality in favor of the doctrines of an organization in which the knee must be bent in pagan-like adoration of a uniform worn by they know not whom. This fundamental and imperative elimination of personality and yielding of will to men in authority, the third classmen have heretofore essayed to instill by hazing, a method clearly indicating their own limited discernment: of the situation; the second classmen have cooperated less forcibly, and the first classmen have approved the practice. That this system is defective and wrong in several moral respects the midshipmen themselves have recently admitted by abolishing hazing henceforth, therefore, the tone of the classes may be expected to improve rapidly, the sound mind in the sound body to grow apace, virtue to creep into the heart, and the young men tend towards becoming officers and gentlemen.
In order to qualify for membership in the naval aristocracy a man must be an officer and a gentlemen. To become the first he must be educated by officers and gentlemen for this purpose Annapolis exists. To become the second no instruction, properly speaking, ought to be needed, the presumption being that he is already instinct with the concepts of genteel behavior and moral conventional- conduct. Donning the uniform of the organization merely adds to the responsibilities of good breeding those of the sacred duties of officer. Said the founder of the American Navy, John Paul Jones," None other than a gentleman as well as a seaman, both in theory and practice is qualified to support the character of a commissioned officer in the navy."
What does this word gentleman, which in the navy cannot be dissociated from the word officer, connote?
"The gentleman, it has been said, is a man who is never offensive unintentionally," said the Parson. Two of the guests murmured "intentionally," by way of correction. "No," he said, "a gentleman is sometimes offensive when honor and reason demand it, but then he means to be. The man who is not a gentleman is often offensive when he does not mean to be." But is he always a gentleman when he is intentionally offensive? "The gentleman is . . . . I have heard a gentleman say a thing without discourtesy' which was repeated after him, word for word, by another Member of the party and it became discourteous at once. It isn't what the gentleman says or does, it is something behind—intention, attitude, planner, method."
The gentleman "must he set on making the best of life as it is, at every moment of the day ; he must he always aware of the 'drift of other people's thoughts and moods; and he must never set his Own mood against theirs In fact, I believe it is a blend of sympathy and, self-possession. . . . The point of the whole thing is that no gentleman ever thinks whether he is or is not one."
But midshipmen think whether the officer is or is not one. They have their ideals; and if in intention, attitude, manner, method he fail to measure up to their standard they brand him as "no gentleman." And from that moment his influence for good declines. There have been in times past officers at. Annapolis who were discourteous, rude, rough, when honor and reason did not demand it, whose word was not relied on and whose character was not respected. . Such men, you may say, ought not to be officers—that's true. Certainly they ought not to be preceptors, of midshipmen: both Academy and navy should see to that.
Another point. As there may have been at Annapolis once in a long while officers who perhaps were not gentlemen, so on the other hand there may have been occasionally gentlemen who perhaps were not officers; that is to say, the opinion has prevailed among the midshipmen that this or that officer has been detailed to ditty at the Academy because the Department at Washington was afraid to send him to sea; he was no good on board ship. Whether this opinion was right or wrong is of no import in this connection; what counts is the midshipmen's view. If they conclude that the gentleman is as an officer an ass, the sooner he is detached the better. He, like the other man, cannot benefit the school or the scholars. Still another point. If an officer be known to the midshipmen as Molly this or Sissy that it would be better to order him to some other shore station.
In allusion to the personality of officers and gentlemen on duty at Annapolis, may be brought up the question whether an instructor should be married or single. A bachelor who has taught for 2o years in school and college has suggested the unmarried man as the more efficient. In opposition it may be said that Dr. Arnold of Rugby, whose moral influence over his boys is historic, had a wife and six children. But the famous Jowett of Balliol College was unmarried, and although he says nothing about bachelorhood, he stated his view of the position he held, as follows: "The head of a college should be identified with the interests of the college. The life of the college in his life…He is married to the college and has a duty to support his family."
Of course Jowett's words do not imply that a 'married man ought not to be at the head of a college because marital relations necessarily interfere with an unrestricted devotion to the duties of the position. What he wished to impress upon his readers was his conception of the seriousness of the obligations assumed by the incumbent of the very exalted position he filled, and the compulsion they imposed of undertaking the services connected therewith, with the firm resolution of devoting all his abilities to an intense performance of them with an eye single to the welfare of the college. The Superintendent of the Naval Academy holds a position analogous to that of Jowett's. His responsibilities are quite as grave, his duties quite as exacting. Indeed, they are far more so; for, Over 900 midshipmen and their many instructors his moral influence and authority, derivable from the military nature of the organization of the Academy, must be exceptionally powerful and extensive. He ought, therefore, to devote to his task in full measure the noblest faculties and richest talents he is possessed of and should pursue a policy of administration absolutely above personality. But how can a record of achievement be made when the tenure of office is for too short a time to allow the policy to fructify?
During the 70 years of its existence the Naval Academy has had 23 superintendents—one on an average every three years. And since 1900, when the new navy amalgamation and expansion were begun, it has had seven superintendents—one every two years. It is evidently impossible for a superintendent to accomplish anything of much value in the time allowed him, no matter what efforts he may make; and whatever enthusiasm he may bring to his task of forming the perfect man of a midshipman must give may to a feeling of despair. Hence the reluctance of officers to undertake to fill an office where reputation may suffer and great effort go to waste.
The assertion is ventured that the continuance of the objectionable custom of frequently changing the head of the Naval Academy and the evils consequent thereupon, may be ascribed in large measure to the apathy of the navy as regards the selection of the man and his tenure of the office. No president of a college is appointed to his high, position without the approval or concurrence of the alumni; and never is a man elected who can serve for only a year or two. But to head Annapolis, the most important and responsible post in the navy in time of peace, the navy is not called on to make a choice; nor to state its views; nor to express its wishes; indeed, it may be said regretfully, the navy, not only, has no voice in the selection, but it has no opinion about, the matter; concerns itself not in the least; does not care.
Since criticism is creeping in from the fleet and other sources, that midshipmen are not given the best course that could be given them, it becomes the duty of the navy to find out what is the best course and. why it is not given; then to insist upon the application of remedies. The navy has the power. It demonstrated this last spring when it forced demoralization and disorganization in the fleet to give way to moral ideas and efficacious methods. It therefore follows that if through strength of purpose officers can compel a recognition of their right to interfere in fleet matters, they surely can, if they so desire, bring equally vigorous pressure to bear on Naval Academy education. And the advice is here and now tendered that they ought to do it. Is not the moral character Of Annapolis a moral question for officers to consider? Are they not responsible for the progress and the development of the sound mind and sound body of Academy education? Is not Annapolis their Academy, their alma mater? "In this world, God only and the angels may be spectators."
Mans Sana in corpora sano. A sound mind in a sound body—Moral and mental rectitude combined in the same individual. The above saying has by a judicious 'Writer been styled "the golden rule of education." About moral rectitude, the heart, something has been submitted; about mental rectitude, the mind, something is now to be said.
From the mind emanate intellect and intelligence. Intellect is the acquisition of knowledge; intelligence is the use of knowledge. An intellectual man may or may not be an intelligent man; he may be only a book-worm in devoting his time and talents to study, oblivious of passing events, uninterested in them, incapable of reading their signification. An intelligent man, on the other hand, sees the passing show, comprehends its Meaning himself takes part in the procession. Intellectual men are often very intelligent men; perhaps they usually are; and when the two qualities of the mind are united in a superlative degree in one person a genius may result, like Napoleon. Great intelligence alone implies the ability to perceive and make use of with astuteness the intellectual equipment of others. In this respect Mr. Lincoln may be mentioned as remarkable. In the navy are intellectual men and intelligent men. Some of the former by devoting their talents to promoting scientific matters are not so efficient, perhaps, on board ship as some of the latter—not so practical, not so appreciative of the situation; they cannot build or make anything as well as the latter, cannot Understand business as well, cannot command men as well.
The general aim of Naval Academy education is to develop in midshipmen the intelligent side of the naval profession, but in such manner that the importance of the intellectual side shall be perceived without permitting it to imbue midshipmen with the idea that it alone will be sufficient to make for efficiency. The aim of education, writes Professor Hanus of Harvard University, "is to prepare for complete living. To live completely means to be as useful as possible and to be happy. By usefulness is meant service." Professor Harms means by service, duty to society. Here in this essay the word is .confined to mean duty to society as represented by the military organization at the expense of the individual duty to the navy; that is what the word service signifies when applied to the educational aims of the Naval Academy.
There are, it would seem, at first glance, two conceptions of the aims of military education; and the one conception is apparently opposed to the other. The one is stated by Dr. Pritchett of the Carnegie Institute, whose son graduated from West Point, to be that West Point does not aim at fitting men for a given calling, but to give them along with a certain military training a general education which shall count for both character and intellect. This conception is not unlike Professor Harms's. Perhaps, however, it may not be that of all West Pointers,. The other conception is that of Captain Gibbons, late Superintendent of Annapolis. He told a congressional, committee: that, "We are educating there (Annapolis) a definite type of man for a definite object in life and that both theory and practice are combined as well as we can combine them in four years." This conception is perhaps nearer the mark. Ex Scientia Tridens.
Both conceptions are, however, fundamentally right. Dr. Pritchett's because success in life for West Pointers, midshipmen and all other men will depend, upon the moral and, intellectual training given by the colleges. Captain Gibbons' because success as a naval officer—so, too, as an army officer—will depend on the vocational education, moral and intellectual, acquired by, combining, theory and practice at a government military college, for naval officers the Naval Academy. The first is the broad idea of education and has reference to the whole man, whether he be of the circus, the university or the church. The second is the narrow idea and has reference to making perfect the particular man, the naval officer. It is this second narrow conception which is under discussion in this essay, the means to be employed to prepare midshipmen to become as useful naval officers as possible—usefulness meaning naval service—and incidentally, happy.
The efficacy of the means to be employed in promoting the realization of the educational concept of the Naval Academy will depend on the educational values of the subjects chosen for the furtherance of the aims of the school. The studies chosen are the means; the aims to be advanced by the means, i. e., by the values of the studies, are two incentive to activity, and power to think and to execute. Incentives When strong inspire the desire to learn well the nature of the subject matter set before the student; in the belief that the interest he takes in the study will increase his reputation and further his ambition as an officer and gentleman. Power to think and to act when considered in relation to the aims to be advanced by study, is developed through the pursuit of a given subject, and is usually restricted to data of a particular sort. That is to say, writes Professor Harms, power in physics is different from power in Latin.
The educational values of the studies chosen consist (a) in the scope, kind, strength and permanence of the incentives to activity; and (b) in the kind, degree and permanence of the power to think and to execute which these subjects may develop." The scope, kind, strength and permanence of the incentives of value to the navy must be determined by the activity and interest which can be made to grow out of the study of scientific subjects; and the kind, degree and permanence of the power to achieve results must be the outcome of the power developed through the pursuit of some one scientific subject. Hence the theoretical education of Midshipmen aims at being scientific not humanistic, analytical not synthetical, vocational not general.
In essence the vocational education partakes more of the nature of mechanical engineering than of any other kind. Therefore Annapolis is to-day a school of that description, with studies similar to those of other technological colleges; their application, however, relating more specifically to ships and their equipment, along which lines are to be found, writes Admiral Fiske, "The highest expression of the genius of mechanism and the embodiment of its spirit." Here, then, are to be found the incentives of value to spur activity and interest. Next; taking mechanical engineering as a starting point, the paths along which progress may be made—electrical engineering, marine engineering, ordnance engineering, naval construction—are clearly indicated, so that any one of them may be subsequently traveled by attending a postgraduate course in search of power—meaning the ability to do something, to bring about results.
Scientific education must rest on the fundamental, essential, all-pervading science of mathematics, ; and the study of mathematics must precede the study of every other science, inasmuch as mathematics is not dependent on any one, whereas all are dependent, more or less, on it. "If a man's wit be wandering, let him study the mathematics." Hence the emphatic necessity of midshipmen being sufficiently grounded in that study to take up understandingly other scientific subjects of the curriculum, with a view to fashioning their minds into a similitude with mechanical engineers' minds. How much mathematics is needed? Here's the rub again, since here, too, as in nearly all things naval, there is a babel of tongues.
Some years ago a Superintendent gave his .opinion and reasons why too much mathematics was taught; but he failed to win over the academic board. Then a board composed of officers not stationed at the Academy inquired into the matter. Their report suggested an increase rather than a decrease. Hence the last state of the non-mathematical student was worse than the first.
Mathematics is an extremely difficult subject to .master intelligently. It lays waste more hopes than all other studies combined; the hopes of those who seek admission to the Academy, and of those already there, seeking to graduate. More than half the candidates who essay the entrance examinations fail to pass in mathematics, and more than half of those who do enter Annapolis subsequently leave because of failures in mathematics. There's a reason—insufficient preparation. Perhaps it would he nearer the mark to say improper preparation. For mathematical acumen can result, not from training the memory, which is simply learning by rote, but from training the mind, which is developing the thinking principles, a much more difficult process and one which is shunned apparently by most teachers in primary and secondary schools. First, because often the teachers themselves have been improperly taught and, for example, can no more deduce the rule for the division of fractions than their pupils can; and secondly, because by neglecting to teach principles much time is saved, more ground is hurried over, and teaching is considerably easier. Such teachers, methods and motives cannot fit boys for studying sciences which need for their apprehension mental Penetration instead of memoriter ability, even though as frequently happens an excellent memory may pass a boy in and carry him through to a safe finish. Since the object of mathematical instruction, exact deductive reasoning, like that of geometry, for instance, is lost, the resulting education will be essentially superficial.
At Annapolis it is superficial for the above reason and some others. Among them the entrance examination in scope, quantity and quality it is and always has been absurdly easy. On this one point there is perfect accord among men in and out the navy. And year after year in recent times it has been made easier in order that the foolish as well as the wise might enter the Academy and take up the grueling work there. As a matter of fact, however, lessening the entrance requirements has not lessened the percentage of failures. How can it if such elementary questions, for example, as, explain how to subtract one from one hundred without using the word borrow or its equivalent, be flunked by boys of 16 to 20 years of age? Though this question may not have been put, the examinations in mathematics and also, it should be added, those in English, history, etc., are not .far removed from it in puerility.
Hear what the late Professor Lounsberry wrote on this subject: "Educated men…are invariably astounded when the nature and extent of the subjects demanded at the entrance examinations . . . are brought to their attention. The requirements for admission are far below those of institutions of similar character that aim to fit men for the pursuits of civil life." For the sake of comparison the professor places: side by side the subjects in which examinations for admission are held at the Naval Academy and at the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale, thus showing the farcical nature of Annapolis requirement. To quote further: For the ills of the present system the natural and indeed the only satisfactory remedy is to raise the standard of admission. Most of the common objections made to this course are of such character that one is disposed to apologize to educated Men for considering them at all seriously." Nevertheless the objections whether needing apology or not cannot be overridden by the Naval Academy. They are placed in the path of progress by the Secretary of the Navy, he is responsible but may it net with some truth be said that the navy also is culpable?
To relieve the Naval Academy from future jeers and sneers at the paucity and absurdity of the entrance requirements, the suggestion is offered that in lieu of the present entrance examinations conducted by the Academy authorities under the orders of the Navy Department, the certificates of proficiency from colleges and high schools be accepted. If such procedure were followed the customary complaints by the disappointed candidates and their friends, of the prejudice, partiality and carelessness of the naval examiners would be stilled; and the worry and the wear and tear of mind of these officers would come to an end. But more important than all else, the adoption of the plan would remove forever one noteworthy field of Naval Academy activity from political influence and annoyance—a not inconsiderable desideratum. Is it not possible and proper, even perhaps a duty, for the navy to lend a band here?
Midshipmen while undergoing instruction in the science of the naval profession are divided for teaching purposes into sections of ten or a dozen men, each section with a teacher in charge for an hour at a time. The method is ideal in conception. It brings to the mind's eye the picture of an instructor and his pupils coming together in close contact for the recitation, discussion and explanation of the lesson of the day "where there is a community of thought, a harmony of effort, a willingness on the part of the student to do his work fairly; on the part of the, teacher to make the way as plain as possible." And in the UNITED STATES NAVAL INSTITUTE PROCEEDINGS one reads that: "The methods of teaching at the Academy are good"; that "midshipmen are carefully educated"; that "probably midshipmen use their time to greater advantage than do youth at other colleges"; and so on. All of which is excellent in theory. Dow is it in practice?
The instructor sitting aloft and aloof from his pupils orders them to the blackboard to place thereon as best they can the contents of the pages of the book they have studied for that recitation. The blackboard work having been finished, the instructor calls on each man to "make explanaish"; and endeavors to arrange the time so that every man in the section shall be heard within the hour. As for taking the work of three or four men as a basis for devoting half the time in class-room to discussion and producing harmony of effort, to making the way plain—the idea cannot for a moment be entertained. There is no time for instruction of this heart to heart nature. The book is the thing; and the sooner it be got through with the better; for there are many other books awaiting a turn to be learnt. The results of this: forcing process are declared by Midshipman Small "to be bad. He states that specially prepared text-books in tabloid form are used; that midshipmen must accept fact after fact because the book says so; that the valuable training given by modern educational methods is missed altogether, and that "midshipmen develop a slavish adulation for the book."
If the statement of Midshipman Small be accepted—and no reason can be adduced for rejecting it—it leads to the belief that the educational methods of Annapolis are radically defective, that they do not tend to develop the healthy mind. Too much ground is sought to be covered, the text-books are unsatisfactory, and the instruction is insufficient and—inefficient? Yes, that is the implication. corroborated by boards of visitors, by civilian investigators and by a few naval officers. This inadequate instruction is inherent in a system in which a constantly shifting body of officers is detailed for two or three years to perform a duty not in line with their profession. As officers they may be most alert and able on board ship and quite remarkable for scientific accomplishments, but these admirable qualifications for distinction in one line, for power to think and to execute, are not a warranty of success in Some other line, like teaching, which calls for technical information and pedagogic talents combined in the smite individual, and an exceptionally brilliant personality differing in kind and degree from characteristics indicative of excellence in the naval profession.
A very clear appreciation of a teacher's qualifications is that of Professor Hanus, stated negatively in the quotation following:
If he is a physical or mental .weakling, if he is stolid and heavy, if he is indifferent to nature, human nature, and art, if he lacks enthusiasm in the pursuit of his subject and never feels the glow of conscious mastery, if he lacks a crabbed or irritable disposition, if he is brilliant but unsympathetic, if he lacks an interest in his pupils at leak equal to his interest in his subject, if he has no. tact and is lacking in the sense of humor that often furnishes the silver lining to an otherwise black cloud of youthful idleness or seeming perversity—in a word, if he is not physically and mentally vigorous, alert and active, if he is not interestedly and healthily responsive to the varied interests of life, if he cannot cherish a feeling of good will and maintain a hopeful and encouraging attitude in spite of many discouragements and some failures—whatever he may be able to achieve in other callings, he ought never to be a teacher.
The description of what a teacher ought not to be lends color to the suggestion that since naval officers cannot be detailed as instructors for a longer period than two or three years, and are not experienced pedagogues; that since when away from Annapolis naval matters must absorb their time and mind, and likewise, though in less degree, when on duty at the Academy, so that they cannot, whether afloat or ashore, because of these professional distractions, keep in touch with educational progress outside Annapolis; that since they are temperamentally unfitted because of mental attitude, naval training and environment to teach with undivided attention and interest a school of young barbarians whose habitat is as unlike that of men on board ship as possible; therefore, instruction in non-naval subjects can perhaps be imparted with greater advantage to the Academy by professional educators from civil life, than by a constantly changing detail of naval officers who attempt earnestly enough, without doubt, to accomplish the impossible.
It has been said that the Naval Academy in organization and system is so far removed from the great body of educators throughout the country as to suffer from the evils of what is commonly called in-breeding. Without doubt this is justifiable criticism. It has been expressed by a few naval officers and by many educators and civilians, all friendly to the Academy. The only remedy for the faults complained of is outside contact, continuous contact, to be sustained by the men of distinction in the Academy keeping in close touch with like teachers of mark, their confreres, in the colleges. The Naval Academy needs, therefore, if progress along modern lines is to be followed, a permanent staff of college professors and instructors; expert specialists, of highest standing, long experience and noteworthy pedagogic acumen in the civil colleges where they may have officiated before accepting the call to Annapolis. Already some civilian instructors have, been taken on, but they are too few in number to leaven appreciably the official, inert mass they are up against. However, even to secure the few has been up-hill work, opposition having come from the very men who might have been expected to do their best to promote such employment. A year or so ago in a competition to fill two vacancies in the department of languages, not a college graduate applied—so it has been stated—although the universities were solicited for candidates. The reason, so reads the information, was that the Superintendent of the Academy was credited with the remark that civilian instructors should not be retained more than three or four years." What this policy would mean for the training .of midshipmen, it is unnecessary further to state.
The departments of instruction which, the suggestion is ventured, might with advantage to the educational, endeavors of Annapolis be placed wholly under the control of civilians with civilian heads and complete corps of civilian instructors are mathematics and mechanics, English, modern languages, electrical engineering and physics. In marine engineering and naval construction, there might be a corps composed of half civilian professors and half naval officers with a naval officer at the head, since the naval element would know better the lines to be followed for keeping abreast of the times in naval construction and equipment. It goes, of course, without further saying that in the purely professional subjects life seamanship, navigation and gunnery, instruction must be given exclusively by active naval officers. Also, navy men should direct practical instruction even in mechanical and electrical practice where civilian instructors may lend a hand. The reason is obvious, the training bears directly on the similar practical work to be continued on board ship.
With the, nature and extent of Academy instruction, theoretical and practical, some fault has been found. Criticism is creeping in from the fleet and from other sources that Annapolis is not preparing midshipmen for their life work as .well as it might, could, would, or should. Wherein is Academy preparation defective? In What respect does it fail to place the mark of the perfect man on its graduates? Some of the critics complain that too much time is given to theoretical subjects and too little to practical matters. Others; too much is given to the practical and not enough to the theoretical. Also, that practical work should be more practical; etc , Nearly every, critic suggests something different from , every other critic, and something different from what is. 'Tis a many tithes told tale during 70 years. And it can be hushed only by and with the consent of the navy. Details of the particular things in which the young graduate is not perfect must be given, the why and the wherefore, of a desired change in Academy instruction must be distinctly set forth, and there must be some positive agreement as to the best course to be followed to make midshipmen complete creatures after their kind. The question is up to the fleet. Will the fleet tackle the problem seriously and earnestly, determined to find a solution? It ought to.
In some of the articles on the Naval Academy, printed in the UNITED STATES NAVAL INSTITUTE PROCEEDINGS, a comparison is drawn between the engineering course at Annapolis and similar courses in a number of colleges, not at all to the disadvantage of the Academy. There are over 800 institutions called colleges in the United States, many of them, empowered to grant degrees. Some of them are little more than real estate ventures, and some, a large proportion, are preparatory schools in whole or in part. Manifestly Annapolis is equal, even superior, to a large proportion of the 800. But with which ones the Academy was likened is not stated—so far as can be recalled. Furthermore, the comparison was made by an interested party it may be thought to resemble in this respect the opinion of the Bandar-log in one of Kipling's jungle stories, who shouted that they were the most wonderful people in all the jungle, they all said so and so it must be true. A inure impartial and convincing way to gauge the scholastic attainments of midshipmen over against those of undergraduates in other colleges would be—the suggestion is proffered—to have the parallel drawn by some disinterested body like the Carnegie Institute for the promotion of learning. A report from the nonpartisan experts who compose it, might perhaps indicate that Annapolis had an educational beam in her own eye which would have to be removed before she could see clearly the motes in others' eyes.
Satisfactory results, however, will not follow upon changes in curriculum, method and organization of the educational concepts at Annapolis, be they ever so beneficial fundamentally, unless the navy approve. In essence the question is not one of superiority over other colleges, in respect of the amount of mathematics and engineering that may be taught, but is only whether the navy be satisfied. Between service and Academy there should be perfect accord, the former indicating the paths to be trod, the latter cheerfully jogging along them. A moral question here obtrudes itself, the Naval Academy must see the right as the navy gives her to see the right. This lays a heavy duty on the service—nothing less than to devote ability, intelligence and intellect to promoting the sound mind of alma mater.
"'A sound Mind in a sound Body' is a short, but full Description of a happy State in this World. He that has then these two, has little more to wish for; and he that wants either of them, will be but little the better for anything else…He, whose Mind directs not wisely, will never take the right Way; and he, whose Body is crazy and feeble, will never be able to advance in it." The words are by John Locke (1632-1704). So are the following: "How necessary Health is to our Business and Happiness; and how requisite a strong Constitution, able to endure Hardships and Fatigue, is to one that will make any Figure in the World, is too obvious to need any Proof." Among other directions for preserving the health of youth, the philosopher gives this one: "Above all, take Care that he seldom, if ever, taste any Wine or strong Drink." So!
There are no crazy and feeble .bodies at Annapolis; none such are admitted. And the strong that are there are made stronger by compulsory training of an intense and exacting nature which removes superfluous tissue and leaves the young man as hard as nails. To make practical instruction more practical in relation to the professional requirements of service afloat may be possible, but in respect of promoting health and developing physique of making men strong to endure, Annapolis on the whole, does good work. Her sons go forth in full vigor of sound health, their muscles hardened, their nerves steadied, their endurance tested.
In addition to the regularity of the life midshipmen lead—the routine, discipline, drills, etc.—there are athletics as fully organized, as carefully supervised and as steadily pursued as any other activity; and every man must take part in them. There is a Navy Athletic Association composed exclusively of officers of the navy, and a Midshipmen's Athletic Association composed exclusively of midshipmen. The former association exercises jurisdiction over the latter, having an official representative in charge of each branch of undergraduate sport to regulate the training, practice, playing, dates of games, etc.
Athletics at Annapolis present many commendable features. They throw officers and midshipmen into more intimate relations than any other work in which the school abounds, and bring about an entente cordiale which helps greatly towards fostering kindly feelings. They animate .all hands from superintendent to plebe with the common desire to have the game played for all it is worth—and to win it. They breed college spirit as nothing else does. They stimulate the participants to do their utmost for the glory of the Academy. More than this. Athletics incite the whole navy to take a deep interest in the games. Oldsters and youngsters, officers and men, active, retired, resigned, give them thought and support. From everywhere and from all sides the alumni rouse up, go to the games, get thrilled with excitement, and acclaim the players—especially at football—as joyfully as though they were once again midshipmen. All this enthusiasm and warmth, this hoping and praying for the success of alma mater, though it be but for a short time and only for athletic prowess, draws attention to the Academy, induces the old boys to think of her, talk of her, recall the good old days that are no more, and wish better days for her in the time to come.
There are yet other reasons for praising athletics. They bring the midshipmen into relations of unity as well as of competition with species of the human kind other than their own, those from the colleges of freedom, whose members are undergoing the process of being educated into perfect men of their kind by means and methods unlike those in vogue at Annapolis; and the two species fraternize and interchange views. Sometimes Annapolis has sent her men abroad to engage in contests in distant lands, as it were, where they see strange men and manners, and where the customs, habits and ideals are different from those at the Academy. The mental and moral stimulus of this contact with men of other training and environment cannot fail to broaden the outlook and open up the minds not only of the Academy athletes who play the games, but likewise of their fellows who listen to the tales the players tell.
Athletics at Annapolis more than at most colleges are valuable as a means of recreation because of the confined life the midshipmen lead and the restrictions of military discipline which necessitates an official oversight of every moment of a young man's time and of everything he does. To relieve .the irksomeness of such constant surveillance—felt if not understood—and excite pleasurable sensations, is worth the time and attention midshipmen arc permitted to devote to the enjoyment of play. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
That athletics merely as physical exercises conduce to bodily strength and improvement is universally admitted, and on this account it is advisable to support them. Also it should be said their moral effect is valuable; they call for self-subordination, cooperative effort, public spirit, and they bring out dominant characteristics and tendencies as regards temper, disposition and force, of will of the participants. But notwithstanding the good that is in them, it would be unwise and Shortsighted to consider athletics as constituting anything more than a single stage in the best bodily training in that branch of education designed to give to a man's frame vigor, activity and beauty.
The objectionable features of athletics, those exclaimed against by college authorities and others, may be quickly summed up as follows: The student's point of view has become so distorted that fictitious values are assigned to physical ascendency over mental capability; the adulation given to notable players has exceeded the bounds of reason and common sense; the winning of games has assumed an exaggerated importance at variance with their signification, which is that of healthful amusement and excitement; and they have relegated to insignificance the ability to study hard, stand high and win scholastic honors. But it should be added that the morals of athletics are on the mend. Cheating at games is frowned upon and the scholastic standing of the players has been raised. There is better behavior on the field and in the study, and slowly but surely under the pressure of public opinion, a saner view of sports is coming within the horizon of the undergraduates.
By far the most damaging impeachment of athletics at Annapolis was the charge laid last summer against some instructors that they discriminated between the athletes and the other midshipmen in awarding marks for intellectual work. Such a charge, if it can be sustained, is shocking; it indicates a deplorable condition of demoralization, and goes far towards justifying the wrong notions of midshipmen in respect to the purport, of the games they play. Here is the unhealthy mind and also the unhealthy body even though both be muscular. But doubtless the accusation of unfairness was unfounded, made in the heat of argument, like some other assertions affecting Annapolis, and rests on no solid ground. May be it was never made—except in the newspapers.
Other means of physical development are the professional drills, many of which are competitive and call upon the midshipmen to strive mightily to win the prizes offered; such are the exercises at infantry, seamanship, gunnery and some others. All these when rightly conducted give strength of body and nimbleness of movement. Excellent, however, as these exercises are in bringing the body into condition to stand the wear and tear of life on board ship, there are other measures less strenuous than athletics and drills, which are of still more importance to the healthy body of midshipmen. Of paramount value for instance as a conserver of good health and a sound constitution is the daily routine a man must conform to, the regular hours he must keep, the wholesome food he must eat, the clothes he must wear, the exercise he must take, and the avoidance of every form of dissipation. His cleanliness, his neatness, his carriage, how he must stand, walk and run, the lectures on hygiene he must hearken to; these, together with the perfect sanatory arrangements of his surroundings, the buildings, the drainage, the ventilation, all enter as components of the physical side of the education of the perfect man and give to his frame vigor, activity and beauty, the sound body.
Mens sana in corporc sano comprises in respect of the sound body something more than pertains to the possession of a vigorous frame and-physical beauty, it includes, the supposition that without the healthy body there will not be the healthy mind, an inference that unless a man have good health he cannot devote his energies undisturbed to matters extraneous to his physical ailments. It also includes decent habits without which a man cannot command the respect of his fellow men; and good manners without which he cannot gain the esteem of his superiors and inferiors and be accepted as an equal among gentlemen. Behind it all lies the idea of producing a" human thoroughbred."
It has been said of Annapolis that too much attention is paid to things material. Perhaps this may be so if the remark refers to the incompleteness of physical training as regards repose of manlier, grace of movement, modesty, quietude, in contradistinction to a rough and ready attitude, boorishness, boisterousness, the result possibly of an exaggerated admiration of athletic strength and material exertion which for the time being count in the undergraduate community as evidences of lasting power. This may be so. No assertion is ventured that it is so. Also it has been said that because of the strenuous and continuous training of four years, midshipmen go stale when joining ships, are listless, uninterested in the work, lackadaisical, cannot "get a move on." All such dicta may be, very likely are, only the fault-findings uttered now and then by some garrulous officer of an unhappy disposition who may fancy his own distemper to be the result of under- or over-physical training at Annapolis; therefore not to be accepted with seriousness. Whether the criticisms which creep into the Academy from the fleet and other sources animadvert on the physical qualities of Annapolis education is not known to your essayist. He submits only occasional rumors. What is the opinion of the navy?
"For God, for Country and for Yale!" Despite the anticlimax, these words sung by two or three thousand undergraduates and as many alumni, standing bareheaded, are extraordinarily impressive. And the banners with the legends "Class of 1865," of 1875, and so on, and the old men with white hair, and the middle-aged men and the youngsters, all attest more effectively than can words the deep significance and spiritual import of the words the men sing in honor of what they feel they owe their alma mater. So is it at Cambridge, at Princeton, at Ann Arbor, at all colleges. From the circus, the university, the church, the "old grads" go to the campus to give thinks and homage and glory for the education which has made them complete creatures after their kind. How is it with Annapolis?
The reason why a Naval Academy graduate should have a feeling of gratitude, even devotion, for his alma mater is so obvious as to need no. telling: To put it on the lowest ground—as some man said of his college—he is a beneficiary of the institution from which he has graduated. What he got was furnished to him at less than cost. The opportunities which he enjoyed represented charity or a free gift from the state." A midshipman gets all this and ever so much more. He gets, his living; he gets his pay; he gets the right to wear a uniform emblematic of service for navy, for country, and for God. To be insensible to all that Annapolis has done for him would argue him an ingrate. It cannot be held to be particularly creditable to a graduate to be loyal to an institution like. the U. S. Naval Academy which has no generously supported him and educated him morally, mentally, physically. Not to display his loyalty may be no merit, to be without it would be a disgrace.
Perhaps readers of this essay may gather the impression that the writer has not displayed his loyalty to Annapolis, though he has set down naught in malice, and that his sentiment in return for all his alma mater has done for him is not the most worthy. This is denied. A man loves himself even when recognizing his own limitations; he honors his father and mother even when conscious they sometimes err in judgment. So, too, he is devoted to the navy, though he may on occasion question the expediency of its action, and he gladly offers his life to his country whether he believes her to be right or wrong. Therefore the averment that some of the methods of alma mater may need improving; that some of her positions may not be of the firmest; that her point of view may not always be the clearest, and that some ideals may not be held high enough aloft to be seen and worshiped by midshipmen and by alumni, ought not to warrant suspicions of his loyalty and fidelity to his alma mater. "The best of institutions suffers no harm from weighing its faults against its virtues, if it have virtues enough to send the other scale skyward."
What is the matter with the Naval Academy?
Ask the navy.
In Bunyan there are three sluggards, Simple and Sloth and Presumption. "Simple said, I see no danger; Sloth said, yet a little more sleep; and Persumption said, every vat must stand on its own bottom. And so they lay down to sleep again."
When the navy shakes off its lethargy and awakes to a realization of the truth of the text of this essay, namely: that education at the U S. Naval Academy has reference to the whole man, the body, the mind and the heart; that its object, and when rightly conducted, its effect, is to prepare him to be a complete creature after his kind, giving to his frame vigor, activity and beauty, and to his heart virtue; then will indifference, unconcern, and preoccupation no longer weigh down the eyelids of Annapolis alumni; and clearer than the noonday, will stand out the duty officers owe to their Academy. Then, and not till then, will, the service know what is the matter with Annapolis. And then, and not till then, will the navy have the right to look to alma mater to stamp upon her sons the hall mark of the perfect naval officer and gentleman—Mens sana in corpore sano