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IX

DISCUSSIONS THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN:

IN REBUTTAL

Dean Birge's reply to my article in the September REVIEW on the University of Wisconsin is a mere quibble. Instead of attempting to answer, explain or controvert the plain statements I made as to the "Wisconsin Idea" and the university's connection with it, which were the burden of my former communication, he claims some slight inaccuracies in matters which were collateral to the main question at issue, and argues, from them, that my analysis of the reasons which led to the university being in the limelight--which was what the Review requested of me was erroneous.

Without desiring to engage in an argument with the venerable dean-to know him is to love him-I deem it but fair to take up some of his claims.

First, as to the appointment of alumni as regents. He will not deny that in the years 1903 to 1905, when the “Wisconsin Idea" and all that it represents was being foisted upon the people of the state by the university, the alumni were in a majority on the board of regents and that appointments were made from a political standpoint, care being taken to select members who were in sympathy with the propaganda. That was the point I wished to make.

My statement as to the mill tax was made upon the authority of Hon. C. K. Ellingson, member of assembly, who gave the secretary of state as his authority. There is no question as to the amount of the appropriation; no question as to the fact that the assest valuation was rapidly increased; that the income of the university grew by leaps and bounds, until it became a heavy burden upon the taxpayers. The tax commission has been “manned by university experts," as I stated; its employes, and there have

been hundreds of them, have nearly all been drawn from university ranks.

It is evident that Dean Birge read what I said about legislation carelessly, or he would not misstate it in his comment. I expressly stated that the three important bills affecting the university were “At this writing, August 1, still before the legislature.” That was the truth. None of these was disposed of until after that date. There had been other bills introduced and killed, but none was of as much importance. There are always a number of “freak" bills introduced at each session of the legislature, which no one, not even their authors, take seriously.

The fee for out of state students, fixt at $124 by the legislature, after Aug. 1, did not include the incidental fee of $24, making the total fee $148, but $2 less than the amount originally proposed by the Hambrecht bill.

As to the Allen survey, Dean Birge makes so many misstatements that he forfeits all rights to criticise. Dr. Allen states positively that "so far as I was concerned the survey report might have been on the legislators' desks on Jan. 13, and every record shows it." Despite Dean Birge's assertions, the survey was held back and given to the public by the state board of affairs, a "progressive" body, in piecemeal, “handpicked,” and not then until the reply of the university could be attached to each chapter.

But all the foregoing are beside the main issue, which Dean Birge seeks to becloud by throwing dust.

Whatever cavil may arise over comparatively unimportant details, these facts, as set forth in my former article, remain undeniable. It was largely thru the instrumentality of the university that the "Wisconsin Idea" of commission control was foisted upon the state. It was thru its activity

1 One of the criticisms of the university is that it is very difficult for an outsider to get any definite information regarding it. Even those on the inside appear to have trouble. For instance, Dean Birge says there were either 24 or 33 university bills, and Prof. Jastrow (EDUCATIONAL Review, page 331) says there were 42. And yet they complain of inaccuracies made by one outside the “ring."

in this field that the university has incurred whatever hostility there exists against it.

Opposition to it is limited, in the main, to a desire to restrict its political activities in the future, hold its expenses within reasonable limits, and confine its efforts to legitimate educational work.

This condition can not be past over with a wave of the hand, as Dean Birge seeks to do, nor can it be met by a counter charge that the writer is “avowedly hostile" to the movement called the "Wisconsin Idea."

J. L. STURTEVANT EDITOR RECORD-HERALD

WAUSAU, WISCONSIN

THE RATIONALE OF PUNCTUATION:

A CRITICISM Miss Rourke's article in the October EDUCATIONAL REVIEW presents a most interesting theory of the psychology of marks of punctuation. It may however be doubted whether, by examining into the “intrinsic character” of each to discover the suggestion which it has power to make, the most fully definite basis has here been laid for the conclusion that emphasis is the sole purpose of them all. In order to test the point "by sheer effect,” we may first of all note that any series of English sentences would be only very painfully comprehensible without any pointing what

The period is, obviously, quite essential for clearness in marking off completed thoughts. The semicolon has indeed almost the same relation to clearness; it is far more truly “a period made suspensive” than any near relative to the comma. Period and semicolon differ only in their emphasis, to be sure, but they each have this function as only a secondary one.

As to the colon, its purpose of indicating “definite fulfilment, even climax,” is quite as germane to clearness as to emphasis.

Again, it should not be a highly difficult matter to show the clearness function of the comma in the three cases where Miss Rourke particularly challenges it: the vocative, the

ever.

series, and the single part of the compound sentence. The comma for the vocative distinguishes the part it sets off from possible confusion as subject or object of the verb, as "Strike, countrymen," etc.; here, as everywhere, the mark serves for a specific, instant purpose, performing its function by "virtue of some immediate suggestive power,” obviating so far as possible the merest momentary confusion of the reader. Walt Whitman's almost constant omission of it, as in “Bounding O soul thou journeyest—" gives, if no confusion at times, always a sense of blur. In like manner, that the comma in series serves a like end is easily demonstrable: When you come upon a parallel element, whether word, phrase, or clause, following such a comma without a conjunction, you inevitably look for a third, and you are nonplussed if you fail to find it, as: “He sat down, ate his. dinner with zealous hurry.” Finally, in the compound sentence, if after a comma you come upon a coordinate conjunction, you expect not another verb, complement, or phrase, but another main proposition. It is the reversals of these simple principles, and in precisely the degree in which variations are uncommon, that give emphasis to the part preceding the unusual punctuation.

Tho this emphasis is indeed wholly given to the matter before the mark, this by no means demonstrates that the comma can never for the sake of clearness “set off, as the rhetorics say.” The evident difference in the punctuated and unpunctuated clause in the old example, "Sailors who are superstitious will not set sail on Friday,” is proof enough that the commas do perform precisely the office of parentheses, no matter what they intrinsically ought not do. The parentheses and the dash differ only in relative emphasis, and the commas which set off parenthetical elements are merely a less emphatic member of the same scheme. It should also be more carefully noted than it usually is that the difference between parenthetical and restrictive or limiting elements applies equally to appositives, adverbial clauses and phrases, and any other modifiers as well as to adjective clauses.

series, and the single part of the compound sentence. The comma for the vocative distinguishes the part it sets off from possible confusion as subject or object of the verb, as "Strike, countrymen," etc.; here, as everywhere, the mark serves for a specific, instant purpose, performing its function by “virtue of some immediate suggestive power," obviating so far as possible the merest momentary confusion of the reader. Walt Whitman's almost constant omission of it, as in “Bounding O soul thou journeyest—,” gives, if no confusion at times, always a sense of blur. In like manner, that the comma in series serves a like end is easily demonstrable: When you come upon a parallel element, whether word, phrase, or clause, following such a comma without a conjunction, you inevitably look for a third, and you are nonplussed if you fail to find it, as: “He sat down, ate his dinner with zealous hurry.” Finally, in the compound sentence, if after a comma you come upon a coordinate conjunction, you expect not another verb, complement, or phrase, but another main proposition. It is the reversals of these simple principles, and in precisely the degree in which variations are uncommon, that give emphasis to the part preceding the unusual punctuation.

Tho this emphasis is indeed wholly given to the matter before the mark, this by no means demonstrates that the comma can never for the sake of clearness "set off, as the rhetorics say.” The evident difference in the punctuated and unpunctuated clause in the old example, "Sailors who are superstitious will not set sail on Friday,” is proof enough that the commas do perform precisely the office of parentheses, no matter what they intrinsically ought not do. The parentheses and the dash differ only in relative emphasis, and the commas which set off parenthetical elements are merely a less emphatic member of the same scheme. It should also be more carefully noted than it usually is that the difference between parenthetical and restrictive or limiting elements applies equally to appositives, adverbial clauses and phrases, and any other modifiers as well as to

Finally, a comma marks clearly the close of an adverbial clause preceding the main proposition-in modern usage,

it. With this rarely the phrase except for emphasizing it. punctuation there can be no mistaken running it on to include some part of the next clause, and in consequence having to go back over the ground. When Mr. James omits this comma and thereby compels the reader to retrace the thought some three or four times, as has happened to me at least, he adds, in “sheer effect,” somewhat needlessly to his reputation for difficulty.

These, except for a few conventional forms in letterheads and quotations--'accepted shorthand

appear to be all the essential uses of punctuation. Is not its principal purpose, then, fullest clearness: to obviate so far as possible any misreading of the sentence--to fulfil that aim which George Meredith beautifully states of a clear style, that it “may be read out currently at a first glance"?1 There is no doubt whatever that each mark secures something of emphasis in addition, in all these cases in the vocative and the series especially; perhaps a very little in the pointing of parenthetical elements. Here, as in the adverbial clause preceding the main statement, what emphasis is gained is chiefly by the common method of a shift in the order of sentence parts.

If, then, the basic purpose of punctuation is to make clear the syntax, according to a very few definite principles, any variation from these principles will obviously be most emphatic. It calls special attention to itself. All known writers, as in Miss Rourke's citations, are of course sources of examples of such variation, and particularly with the comma and semicolon. In the case of Mr. James and the vocative, the omission of the comma shows something definite as to Nanda Brookenham. But this is also a pretty dangerous principle, as in Mr. James' adverbial

· The purpose of punctuation for clearing up syntax is well stated in Mr. Moe's "Teaching the Use of the Comma" (English Journal, March---I believe-1913), and is rested on the practise of the "literary-ininded journals" in a most readable article by Mr. Ward, “Punctator (ingriens” (Ibid., September, 1915).

adjective clauses.

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