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The appointment of Dr. Charles Eliot (late President of Harvard University) to succeed Mr. Whitelaw Reid as American Ambassador at the British Court is a distinctly noteworthy event. For, in the first place, Dr. Eliot has had no previous experience of diplomatic life, and in the second place, he is seventy-five years old. That a man so far advanced in years should be capable of assuming such responsibilities is, in its own way, as" remarkable as that the American people should commit so weighty si trust to one who hitherto lias devoted his energies chiefly to the solution of social and educational problems. But, looking at Dr. Eliot's record, and considering the grounds for the reputation that he has built up for himself among his own people, we can be fairly certain that the judgment of the Americans is sound. For Dr. Eliot is no ordinary old man. He can still, as he puts it, go up stairs two' steps at a time; he always runs to a fire when he hears an alarm; and he rides his bicycle with the enthusiasm of a youth in his teens. For forty years he has been head of Harvard University, and he Iras just retired from this important post with his physical and intellectual powers still unimpaired, ready, as one of his eulogists has said, to enter on a new period of enlarged

usefulness, instead of joining the ranks of the superannuated. It is chiefly as President of Harvard that Dr. Eliot has achieved fame even among his own countrymen. But he has not been content with his official and academical duties. For many years past he has been recognised as the virtual head of the American educational system. Through his influence and his advocacy, education in the United States has been kept well abreast of most advanced European developments, and as "Collier's" has recently said, every boy and girl in the schools of the United States to-day owes him a personal debt of gratitude. And even more than a great teacher and a great educational authority, he , has been a public-spirited and conscientious citizen. "Nobody," he has written, '"has any right to find life uninteresting and unrewarding who sees within the sphere of his own activity a wrong he can help to remedy, or within himself an evil he can hope to overcome." On this principle lie lias acted throughout his long and busy life. He has taken an active part in all the great public movements of the day—the efforts of the people to deal with the negro question, to promote international arbitration, to keep the peace between Capital and Labour, and to regulate the liquor traffic. It is by such work as this that this man, without wealth or social or political influence to magnify his achievements, has gained the proud title of "the first citizen of America." Other countries have recognised his merits: he is an officer of the Legion of Honour, a member of the Institute of France, and Grand Officer of the Italian Order of the Crown. But the highest reward that such a man could ever receive is the respect and admiration invariably displayed toward him by his fellowcountrymen, and their unbounded confidence in his judgment and his inlegrity. Still in the full possession of physical and mental vigour,, at 75 Dr. Eliot is a living confutation of all doctrinaire theories about the limits of man's usefulness; and it speaks well for the American people that they should need no higher credentials than Dr. Eliot can show for a life spent in the service of the nation to justify his appointment to one of the most important and responsible public positions at their disposal.

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Bibliographic details

A GRAND OLD MAN., Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 80, 3 April 1909

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A GRAND OLD MAN. Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 80, 3 April 1909

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